PSNI team will probe paedophile priests in the North
POLICE called for a state inquiry into historical clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland yesterday and revealed that a specialist detective team had been set up to investigate past crimes.
A senior officer in the PSNI said it would play its part in bringing to justice those responsible but stressed that there was a need for a wider response among statutory agencies to address the allegations.
Assistant chief constable Will Kerr said: "There are statutory responsibilities for agencies other than the police service -- the health and education sectors -- and there are also island-wide implications in relation to the sharing of information.
"We strongly support the need for a cross-departmental inquiry. It would certainly be of significant benefit to us."
Mr Kerr told members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board that a recent upsurge in historic complaints against clerics had prompted the PSNI to set up a specialised team.
The Northern executive is considering whether to establish a public inquiry into clerical sex abuse.
At yesterday's meeting of the Policing Board in Belfast, PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott said the volume of allegations that he anticipated would mean his detectives would have to prioritise and that cases where a threat of immediate harm existed would be investigated first.
Mr Kerr said that 29 of the allegations recently reported to the police involved suspected perpetrators who are dead.
"Clearly if there are issues like that, that are so historic, then we are not going to prioritise them," he said.
Mr Baggott told the board that the potential scale of the investigation facing his team could require extra funding.
"We will take responsibility clearly for the investigation," he said.
"But if that needs additional resources, I shall be coming to others to provide those."
An Garda Siochana, which worked with the Catholic Church's Ryan Commission on the investigation of abuse by clerics in the Republic, deployed a 37-strong team of detectives to work on the cases.