Inspectorate reports on support for legacy inquests

The PSNI has been found to be fulfilling its statutory responsibilities to disclose information to the Coroner in support of legacy inquests but existing processes have been described as complex and convoluted. View report page

CJI Chief Inspector Brendan McGuigan said a number of factors were contributing to the protracted  delay experienced by families around the progress of legacy  inquests.
"Legacy inquest proceedings have through time become adversarial rather than inquisitorial in nature.  As a result, the processes to support the disclosure of sensitive and non-sensitive material in legacy inquests have become complex, convoluted and risk averse.
"If the Coroners counsel were to become more involved early on, they could help streamline the disclosure process by carrying out an early independent assessment of the information available to determine its relevance to the inquest.  This could be done before material was redacted or released by the PSNI's Legacy Support Unit, and would ensure irrelevant material was excluded from the process," said the Chief Inspector.
Mr McGuigan said changes in the PSNI's approach to the redaction and security classification applied to historical information would also be beneficial.
"Inspectors have made a number of recommendations which could help streamline existing processes but unless the political will to resolve the current situation around legacy inquests becomes explicit through a combination of legislative reform, investment in IT solutions and targeted resourcing in terms of finance and staffing, the likelihood of change occurring is limited," he stated.