Following the widely publicised collapse of the case against John Downey in relation to the Hyde Park bombing and the issue of On the Run comfort letters, Lady Justice Hallett was asked to undertake a review of the legality of the scheme given it had been identified that some people had mistakenly been given letters of comfort telling them they were not wanted by police for troubles-related offences.
As a result of the Downey judgment the PSNI is now reviewing all of the OTR cases to ensure that no further mistakes have been made, this is known as Operation Redfield.
BtP put a number of questions to the PSNI on the ongoing work. Primarily, we asked for the current status of the operation, its resourcing and internal structure.
We had also asked for documents and correspondence from the Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Crime Operations including written orders to the team but these were not in a position to be released.
Operation Redfield was responsible for reviewing the wanted status of 228 individuals.
It has been identified that 432 incidents are linked to just 24 of those 228 individuals and the PSNI have prioritised the review of the status of 36 individuals referred to in the Hallett Report.
The review of 75 incidents have so far been completed, less than 20% of the total.
In terms of resourcing, at Feb/March 2014, the operations team included 1 Detective Chief Inspector, 2 Detective Inspectors, 3 Detective Sergeants, 7 Detective Constables and 1 part-time Adminstration officer.
However, information released to BtP shows that this has been reduced by a Detective Inspector, 1 Detective Sergeant and the Administration officer. It is now supported by the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch, which begs the question, is the review being given the attention it requires?
The Legacy Investigations Branch is a revamp of the HET, which came in for harsh criticism about consistency in investigating cases involves the police or security forces.
(picture credit: BBC)