Belfast Telegraph

Return of 50/50 PSNI recruitment urged over lack of Catholics at top

The SDLP has called for the return of 50/50 recruitment in the police after figures showed just 10% of the PSNI's most senior officers are Catholics
The SDLP has called for the return of 50/50 recruitment in the police after figures showed just 10% of the PSNI's most senior officers are Catholics
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The SDLP has called for the return of 50/50 recruitment in the police after figures showed just 10% of the PSNI's most senior officers are Catholics.

Of the 68 officers above the rank of superintendent, 57 are Protestant, while eight are Catholic. Three officers were listed as undetermined.

Out of 77 chief inspectors, 58 are Protestant, and 17 Catholic.

Of 347 inspectors, 248 are Protestant, with 89 Catholic, according to figures reported by the Irish News.

The PSNI has 5,033 constables, with 3,258 identifying as Protestant, and 1,720 as Catholic.

SDLP policing board member Dolores Kelly called for a return of the PSNI's 50/50 recruitment policy to increase the number of Catholics in the force. "(The recruitment policy) should not have been ended when it did," she told the Irish News.

"So many years on from Patten and the transformation of the PSNI, these figures are a cause for concern and it's a matter I hope the policing board will investigate more with the PSNI. We are not seeing the big role models in those senior ranks."

But East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said people should listen to the Chief Constable rather than the "predictable kneejerk calls".

"Last June the Chief Constable was absolutely clear when he said there was a real need for wider nationalism to take yet another step in terms of policing, and it required politicians, civic leaders and church leaders to advocate for a career in policing," Mr Campbell added.

"This week there was a step back from Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein. Unfortunately, the SDLP appear unwilling to listen to George Hamilton's clear and impassioned plea for leadership.

"Dolores Kelly bemoans the lack of big role models but does little to advance such an outcome, except fall back on a call for the return of institutionalised sectarianism. I would encourage people with influence within the Catholic community to advocate for people to step forward and apply to join the PSNI.

"If that does not happen and our Catholic success rate continues as in the last few campaigns, it's inevitable that in future years you might start to see the Catholic composition of the organisation fall.

"That would be unacceptable, and in those circumstances all options would need considered."

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