Belfast Telegraph

Police chief says 50/50 recruitment should be ‘intervention of last resort’

The scheme was devised by reformer Chris Patten 20 years ago to attract more Catholics into a force then dominated by Protestants.

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne speaks at the Patten 20 Years On: Young People, Policing and Stop and Search conference (Liam McBurney/PA)
PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne speaks at the Patten 20 Years On: Young People, Policing and Stop and Search conference (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Northern Ireland’s police chief has ruled out reintroduction of 50/50 recruitment in the immediate future.

The scheme was devised by reformer Chris Patten 20 years ago to attract more Catholics into a force then dominated by Protestants.

It has been discontinued.

Senior PSNI commanders have expressed concern that not enough Catholics have joined following recent merit-based recruitment competitions.

Mr Byrne said: “Not knowing where we might go in the next couple of years I think it would be premature to rule something out that was at the heart of Patten 20 years ago, but I don’t think we are anywhere near that at the moment.

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PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne with participants from Northern Ireland Alternatives and Inside Youth (Liam McBurney/PA)

“To me it is almost like an intervention of last resort, if I can describe it as that, but it would have to be done with consent from all communities.”

He said efforts to attract people from different parts of the country should be redoubled.

“I think we need to look wider at what works and obviously progress inevitably in this space will be slow given the fact that we recruit in batches.

“The time is not now for 50/50.”

He said it would require a political decision.

Police have introduced a range of measures designed to encourage more Catholics to apply for positions.

The need to attend assessment centres has been shown to be a deterrent because it can identify people.

Dissident republicans continue a campaign to dissuade those from a nationalist background from joining the PSNI.

PA

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