Ex-soldier criterion dropped from Border Force recruitment drive

Daniel Holder raised concerns about a British armed forces criteria used as part of a Border Force recruitment drive last year
Connla Young

HOME Office criteria that candidates for Border Force jobs in the north should have served in the police or British armed forces was dropped during the most recent recruitment drive.

The requirements were listed under essential criteria for 300 jobs advertised last year.

The revelation follows a recent U-turn by the UK Border Force over a decision to restrict a fresh recruitment drive for UK passport holders only.

The Irish News revealed last month that the British government had advertised hundreds of new Border Force roles ahead of the UK leaving the European Union.

Among the positions advertised online were for 21 posts based in Belfast – 16 Border Force officers and five Border Force assistant officers but the criteria stated that only British passport holders could apply.

However after it was highlighted the Border Force moved to drop the criteria saying it was an "error".

It has now emerged that the requirement to be a former of the British armed forces or police officer were also previously dropped.

It is understood that concerns about the experience criteria were initially raised with the Equality Commission by the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

The Equality Commission later offered the Border Force advice.

A spokeswoman for the Equality Commission said it “stressed the importance of ensuring that employers in Northern Ireland comply with the requirements placed on them by the equality legislation here”.

“In terms of the actual criterion advertised for the external competition, we advised Border Force of our concerns in relation to the relevance of the experience criteria, given that it is not essential for applicants to have this experience and that training is provided for all appointees,” she said.

“In addition, we discussed the need for objective justification of all criterion, whether internally or externally advertised.”

Deputy Director of the CAJ Daniel Holder raised concerns about accountability claiming the original criteria suggested Border Force had "tried to recruit from one side of the community".

“The 'soldier' criteria was then dropped presumably as it was unjustifiable and discriminatory - how did no one notice that the British citizen criteria would never be a runner either with fair employment legislation here?," he said.

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