chapter  6
14 Pages

Meeting the needs of victims?

Policing the past in Northern Ireland through the work of the historical enquiries team
ByAnnabelle De Heus

Policing reform is an important element in post-conflict societies as a means to provide new structures for security and stability. However in addition, it also plays a significant role in providing for the needs of victims of conflict and the wider issue of dealing with the past. Although policing reform in Northern Ireland, specifically the transition from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), increased societal trust in the police, there are challenges remaining in dealing with the past, and the role of victims groups in ongoing investigations. Despite research findings that indicate increased support for the PSNI across all communities in Northern Ireland, there remains significant issues around dealing with the past. Firstly, the police force struggle to operate within the wider political environment around the issue of legacy; secondly, victims groups are hesitant to work on issues of the past out of a lack of trust in the structural improvements made in policing reform. Using a case analysis of the Historical Enquiries Team, one of the largest attempts in Northern Ireland into investigating the past, this chapter explores its effects in relation to republican victim support groups and the wider role of policing identity.