04/02/2010

'50-50' Police Recruitment Extended

Opposing political figures in the North have clashed over news that 'positive discrimination' measures - normally ruled to be illegal - are to continue for police recruiting across the border.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr said the 50% Catholic/50% non-Catholic provisions allowed the Government to discriminate against the majority population.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster this morning, he said: "You can only do that for a period of time before people's backs get so far up that they are disgusted and appalled," he said.

However, the SDLP's Alex Attwood defended the policy and said it should continue until the PSNI is completely balanced.

The pair's on-air disagreement came after news that the NIO Security Minister Paul Goggins, MP, has laid in Parliament an Order to renew the temporary 50:50 recruitment provisions to the PSNI for a final year.

He said this follows a three-month consultation period on the effectiveness of the provisions.

Speaking on Wednesday at Northern Ireland Questions in Westminster, Paul Goggins said: "Northern Ireland has a police service which has support from across the political spectrum and in all sections of the community.

"The role of the PSNI has also fundamentally changed, with a greater emphasis on community policing.

"The temporary 50:50 provisions have also delivered significant change in the composition of the PSNI.

"When they were introduced in 2001, Catholic composition was 8.3% and today it stands at 27.68% of a service of over 7,300 officers.

"It has been necessary to introduce these temporary provisions in order to deal with the historic imbalance but of course it is important that as we move forward with confidence in policing we expect applications to come from all communities, continuing to attract people of the highest calibre," he continued.

"The record number of applications for the latest recruitment competition to the PSNI underlines the growing support for the PSNI from young men and women across the community," the senior politician explained, noting that, as soon as the 30% target is achieved, the Government will return to Parliament and bring these provisions to an end.

"This is in line with the commitment made in the St Andrews Agreement that the 50:50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Patten target for Catholic officers has been achieved."

(BMcC/GK)

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