DUP blasts potential return to PSNI 50/50 recruitment

Temporary deputy chief constable Stephen Martin. Picture by Bill Smyth

THE DUP has reacted angrily to the possibility of the PSNI returning to its 50/50 recruitment policy to redress Catholic under representation in the organisation.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell said a return to what he termed "institutionalised sectarianism" would fail to enhance Catholic police numbers and he called on nationalist politicians to do more to encourage those from their own community to apply.

But Sinn Féin and SDLP welcomed the possibility that the 50/50 recruitment may return seven years after it was abolished.

Temporary deputy chief constable Stephen Martin yesterday refused to rule out a return to the Patten-era reform because the number of Catholic officers has stalled at less than one-third.

Mr Martin revealed that recent efforts to sign up enough Catholics have fallen short, with only one in five successful in merit-based competitions.

With 400 more officers being sought the the recruitment process has been significantly shortened in a bid to increase the number of Catholics. However, a recent report has revealed that despite initial growth in numbers, Catholic representation in the force has plateaued at around 32 per cent.

Mr Martin said those "with influence within the Catholic community" should encourage people to apply to join the PSNI.

Denis Bradley says Sinn Féin needs to urge Catholics to join police

"If that does not happen and our Catholic success rate were to continue as in the last few campaigns, it would be inevitable that in future years you might start to see the Catholic composition of the organisation fall," he said.

"That would be unacceptable and I think in those circumstances all options would need to be considered."

Sinn Féin policing spokesman Gerry Kelly MLA said Mr Martin’s comments were a "real cause for concern".

"The policy 50/50 recruitment was necessary to address decades of imbalance in the make-up of the police and was only one part of wholesale reforms in an effort to bring about an accountable policing service committed to policing with the community," the North Belfast MLA said.

“Sinn Féin welcomes positive measures taken to address barriers to recruitment, but more needs to be done."

Mr Kelly said the PSNI needed to be pro-active in tackling the barriers to Catholic recruitment.

But SDLP policing spokeswoman Dolores Kelly accused Sinn Féin of being "wishy-washy" in its attitude towards Catholics to join the force.

The Upper Bann MLA said a return to 50/50 recruitment would a "positive development and very welcome".


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