Minister does not plan to reintroduce 50:50 recruitment policy for PSNI

Posted By: March 03, 2020

RECRUITMENT: The PSNI revealed last week that it had received almost 7,000 applications in a drive to recruit 600 officers. About one third are from the Catholic community

Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, March 3, 2020

NAOMI Long has said she is “not minded” to reintroduce the policy of 50:50 recruitment to the PSNI.

Last week the force revealed it had received almost 7,000 applications in a drive to recruit 600 new officers.

About one third are from the Catholic community.

The PSNI currently has 6,900 officers but only around 32 percent are from a Catholic background.

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Catholic Primate Dr. Eamon Martin have called for the reintroduction of 50/50 recruitment – balancing one Catholic for every non-Catholic recruit – which ran for a decade following the formation of the PSNI until 2011.

It succeeded in raising Catholic numbers from less than 10 percent to almost a third, but the figure appears to have plateaued.

However, the justice minister said, “it’s not something I’d be minded to do because I think it’s a blunt tool”.

“The issue in the PSNI, first of all in terms of the current recruitment, is getting enough people from not just a Catholic background, but women, people from the LGBT community and people from ethnic minority backgrounds,” she said.

“The police should reflect the society it’s policing so that’s the first challenge.

“Obviously there have been incidents of groups trying to intimidate people away from support for the police, trying to intimidate people from engaging.

“So you’re up against that hurdle before you even start.

“Then we’ve found an issue with people going through the recruitment process, passing out as police officers and while waiting on appointment have got threats because they are known to have joined the police, and at that point couldn’t remain in the community that they live and took a decision to step back and not actually go forward with their policing career.”

Mrs. Long said civic society has a big role to play in encouraging people from all walks of life to consider a career in policing.

“There’s a lot of work being done with the Rainbow Project and with the GAA and within communities so that people feel that they are encouraged to come forward, but it’s also making sure that when people do come forward that they can then remain in their community.

“That’s a much wider security issue, there’s no simple solution to that.

“It’s not just about the officer but their wider family and how they feel in those circumstances.

“It is a societal problem, it’s not just a recruitment problem.”

The Alliance leader said dissident republican groups fear a force reflective of society “because that’s a threat to them and that’s why it is so important that we don’t allow them to win that battle”.

“People don’t necessarily expect when they apply to become a police officer, particularly post-1998, post-Patten and in 2020, the level of intimidation and threat they face.

“The same concerns impact members of the prison service who also face threat and it’s important that they know that they are able to do a job that is of value to the community and they are safe when they go home to their families.” END.