PSNI Recruitment 'Discriminatory'

There is dissent in the North over the soon-to-end 50-50 recruitment process introduced to increase the numbers of Catholics joining the police.

Although the union that represents police officers in Northern Ireland has signalled it would support the extension of the controversial 'positive discrimination' - specifically to combat the dissident republican threat - the DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt has slammed Terry Spence, Chairman of the NI Police Federation for his comments.

Mr Spratt, who is a past chairman of the Federation - now MLA - said: "50-50 was an outrageous and discriminatory means of recruiting officers in to the police.

"Anyone who believes in fairness and equality welcomed the news that 50-50 recruitment is to be abolished.

"The DUP secured this and was happy to have done so," he said, noting that arguments about funding for security measures and protecting Northern Ireland from the dissident republican threat can be made with the Government, "but it would be utterly immoral to attempt to trade off extra money or resources against continuing anti-Protestant discrimination".

Yesterday, the Police Federation claimed that at least 1,000 extra officers are needed.

Tackling the threat from dissident republicans was top of the agenda at its annual conference with Federation Chairman Terry Spence having strong words of advice for Justice Minister David Ford who attended.

"We are rapidly approaching a stage which can either become the point of no return, or the opportunity to be seized which will end a terrorist campaign before it gets fully under way," he said.

"The PSNI needs at least another 1,000 officers to end terrorism."

However, the argument is academic as despite clearly signalling that the Police Federation would support a 50-50 extension, funding is not available for additional officers.

This seems unlikely in today's financial climate, even though discussions are taking place about the police budget, the threat posed by dissidents and police numbers overall.


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