28/03/2011

North's 50-50 Recruitment Ends

The controversial 50-50 recruitment process for the North's police recruitment has ended after 10 years.

The process was introduced as part of the Patten policing reforms and was aimed at increasing the number of Catholic officers who made up only 8% of the police at the time.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson said that with almost 30% of officers in the PSNI now from a Catholic background, the practice could no longer be justified.

Nationalist politicians have viewed it as a success, but unionist politicians claimed it unfairly discriminated against Protestants.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was glad to see the end of "institutionalised state-sponsored discrimination in the 21st century".

He commented: "I have met many young Protestants who applied to join the police, who went through all the exams and assessments and got into the merit pool and then were told 'I'm sorry you can't be a police officer because you are Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Baptist, Methodist'.

"I have had young people in my office in tears because their future was being determined on a base sectarian decision," he said.

SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said he understood the issue had been difficult for unionists, but that there was "every justification for continuing the policy".

The decision to end 50/50 recruitment to the PSNI has also been criticised by South Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey. Mr Maskey's office issued a statement which commented: 
"No police service, anywhere in the world, cannot simply expect the total support of the community if it is not fully representative of that community.

"
Clearly progress has been made in relation to policing but that has been slow and painstaking; collectively we still have some way to travel yet."

(JG)

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