Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Call to end 50/50 PSNI recruitment

Owen Paterson has backed the end of 50/50 PSNI recruitment

The 50/50 recruitment of Catholics and Protestants to the Northern Ireland police should end next year, the government has said.

Unionist politicians have always opposed the measure which was introduced under reforms of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) that was more than 90% Protestant in membership.

But Secretary of State Owen Paterson said the 50/50 recruitment drive, launched alongside the creation of the new-look Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), had created an organisation that was more representative of the region's divided community.

Mr Paterson announced plans to carry out a consultation on the legislation which expires on March 28 2011, but said he was "minded not to renew the provisions".

"The last 10 years have seen significant change in the composition of the PSNI," he said.

"At the time of the Patten report, Catholic composition in the Royal Ulster Constabulary stood at just 8.3%.

"Today, over 29% of serving officers in the PSNI are from a Catholic background.

"This is within the target range set out by Patten and the PSNI is now broadly reflective of the community it serves.

"The provisions have clearly played an important role in getting us to this point, but it was always envisaged that they would be of a temporary nature."

The Patten Commission led by Chris Patten recommended a raft of reforms transforming the RUC. The move came as part of the peace process and was born out of the 1998 Good Friday political deal.

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