50/50 recruitment not on

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton pictured with advertising posters for the PSNI's new recruitment drive.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton pictured with advertising posters for the PSNI's new recruitment drive.

The Justice Minister David Ford says Protestants shouldn’t be discriminated against to try to ensure the Police Service of Northern Ireland is representative of society as a whole and has ruled out a reinstatement of the controversial 50/50 recruitment policy, which was scrapped in 2011.

For ten years - between 2001 and 2011 - one Catholic had to be recruited for every Protestant - regardless of the amount of applicants from various religious backgrounds.

That was until erstwhile Secretary of State Owen Patterson scrapped the policy in 2011.

But now Sinn Féin Ian Milne has suggested it might be a way of making the PSNI more reflective of society.

According to the latest figures available 67 per cent of serving police officers are “perceived as Protestant” with 31 per cent “perceived as Catholic.”

The imbalance on the police staff is even greater with 77 per cent “perceived as Protestant” and “19 per cent perceived as Catholic.”

Mr Milne asked Mr Ford for his assessment of whether the 50/50 recruitment policy should be reintroduced to address the imbalance in the religious composition of the PSNI.

Mr Ford said it certainly shouldn’t.

“I am keen that the PSNI should continue the great strides it has taken to create a police service that is representative of the wider community it serves. I do not believe discrimination through the reintroduction of a ‘50/50’ recruitment policy is the way to do it.

“When launching this recruitment campaign senior PSNI officers were keen to encourage recruits from all sections of the community and all areas across Northern Ireland in order to get a workforce that represents the entire community.”