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Police service needs root and branch changes

As reported in your newspaper (News, February 6), data revealed about the PSNI indicates that there is still a disparity in the religious and gender composition of the police service.

This has led to calls to reintroduce 50:50 recruitment to increase the number of Roman Catholics and for female recruitment quotas as well.

However, a compelling case can be made for a more fundamental root-and-branch analysis and evaluation of the PSNI.

Firstly, there needs to be a review of what constitutes a "crime" and why, and what the appropriate response should be in the 21st century.

Secondly, the Department of Justice should be abolished, with the PSNI and the Prison Service moved into the Department of Communities along with other social welfare functions, including the Court Service.

Also, there should be differentiation between those who offend against the state due to their external environment and those that have an affluent lifestyle, but who still offend.

The former should be introduced to entrepreneurial training and the latter punished appropriately.

Thirdly, the training college at Desertcreat needs to be brought on-stream to complete Patten's vision of a PSNI transformed.

Lastly, the PSNI still needs to be stripped of its paramilitary features, parading abolished completely, the uniform toned down and the body armour blended in and weapons concealed instead of a prominent feature, so as to soften delivery of policing services.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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