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PSNI recruitment: A positive step, but more still needed

Mervyn Storey

Mervyn Storey

I want to see more police officers on our streets and like everyone else I want to see a police service that is representative of our community.

All of those who step forward and take up a career in policing deserve our support, not just as public servants but because of the potential danger they face as a result of their career choice. When discussing a representative police force the focus is nearly always on those from a Catholic background, but the proportion of women, ethnic minorities and other groups such as working class Protestants all fall short within the PSNI.

It is only for Catholic recruits however that suggestions are made to bypass employment law and use discriminatory recruitment to address it.

The calls for 50:50 recruitment ignore that its usage has not ultimately been successful. The fact the number of Catholics within the PSNI has decreased since its ending show that whilst it may paper over the cracks, the underlying problems remain. Changing legislation will not be a solution when it is a change of mindset which is most required.

We may have taken a step forward towards that kind of change even yesterday with a more visible, public stance from some nationalist political representatives in advocating policing as a career.

Such steps are many years late and must only be the first of many, but it could be a positive start to help ensure people from all backgrounds feel encouraged to choose policing as a career.

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