Historical Enquiries Team

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Graffiti against the work of the Historical Enquiries Team, Mount Vernon estate, Belfast

The Historical Enquiries Team is a unit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland set up in September 2005 to investigate the 3,269 unsolved murders committed during the Troubles (specifically between 1968 and 1998).

The team aims to bring closure to many bereaved families who still have unanswered questions about the death or disappearance of their loved ones. Working with families is at the heart of the HET objectives, and a family liaison process is in place.[1]

Headed by Commander David Cox, formerly of the London Metropolitan Police, it consists of a team of 100 investigators and supporting staff, and a budget of £30 million.

HET is split into two distinct teams: Review and Investigation. The Review team is staffed by police officers employed and seconded from outside the Northern Ireland (to assure complete independence), while the Investigation team has been recruited locally.

Working at a closure rate of 40 cases per month, the team will fulfil its mandate by 2011. However, the investigators - along with the Police Ombudsman - agree that they will require further time to work through the outstanding cases.[2]

On 29 January 2008 it was announced that the Team would reopen files on 124 deaths resulting from fatal shootings by British Army soldiers between 1970 and 1973. At that time community representatives with no training were used to take official witness statements and soldiers involved were also interviewed by the Royal Military Police instead of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Doubts had since been raised about the independence and effectiveness of these investigations.[3]

In a February 2008 it was confirmed in the House of Commons that the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was to examine all deaths attributed to The Troubles from January 1969 to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, equating to 3,268 deaths which occurred in 2,516 incidents (an incident is described as a case). At that time 1,039 cases had been allocated to the HET business process. The team currently has a total of 175 staff.[4]


  1. ^ BBC News Northern Ireland - Murder review team to begin work
  2. ^ BBC News Northern Ireland - Deaths probe timescale 'unlikely'
  3. ^ McDaid, Brendan (2008-01-29). "PSNI team to probe shootings by soldiers". The Belfast Telegraph. p. 3. 
  4. ^ "Historical Enquiries Team". House of Commons Hansard. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 

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