Belfast Telegraph

DUP MLA brands 50-50 recruitment 'a failure'

By Staff Reporter

Unionist politicians have backed the Chief Constable's call for an increase in recruitment.

DUP Policing Board member Mervyn Storey MLA also urged nationalist and republican politicians to give greater support to recruits from those backgrounds.

But he dismissed any need for a return to 50-50 recruitment, which he branded "a failure".

Mr Storey said: "We want to see more officers on the streets from every background.

"The Chief Constable must also call out the fact that there is a problem in nationalist and republican areas with recruitment and cooperation.

"This is not a time to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem."

He said that despite "stark messages from senior officers", including previous Chief Constable George Hamilton last year, there was no notable change.

"A recruitment fair in a nationalist area had to be cancelled, passing-out parades were ignored by the republican leadership and outrageous religious generalisations were made about the PSNI senior team," Mr Storey added.

Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Doug Beattie MLA said police numbers should be increased from 6,700 to 7,500, as recommended by the Patten report.

Mr Beattie stressed he had raised the issue with the Department for Justice, the PSNI and the previous Chief Constable.

"Each time I was told the PSNI had the right numbers, with the resilience to meet any unforeseen circumstances," he said.

"It is now clear that the new Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, does not see it that way.

"He has called for resources to increase the PSNI to Patten levels in order to meet commitments in neighbourhood policing and to meet unforeseen circumstances including Brexit."

He added that in the current political climate "the time is approaching when we need to return policing and justice functions to Westminster in order to deal with the real problems faced by our police and the local justice system".

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