As a general rule, cases are examined in chronological order starting with the earliest – but there are some exceptions. The HET sometimes reviews cases out of sequence perhaps because an elderly relative is in poor health or because a number of violent events are linked.
In order to ensure consistent professional investigation standards the HET has developed a process through which every case is taken.
Collection and Assessment. This includes the recovery and examination of existing records and exhibits.
Review. Here cases are examined to determine whether any further investigative or evidential opportunities exist.
Re-investigation. If the review finds any new evidence or possible lines of inquiry these are followed up and may be referred to the PSNI Crimes Operations department if criminal proceedings are undertaken.
Resolution. In some cases this could involve judicial proceedings. For all families it will include the provision of a written report addressing the specific questions they have asked.
The whole process is underpinned by contact and liaison with families.
The Historical Enquiries team has full support from within the Police Service and maintains close links with other agencies including the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Forensic Science Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice.
The HET process has also benefitted from developing good working relationships with non-government groups and organisations (NGOs) and other representative groups as appropriate, to take advantage of their expertise and the views of community groups.