This PSNI recruitment campaign launch is a good moment to reflect on the progress we've made since the new beginning to policing.
Scrutiny of the PSNI through the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman has bedded in. And 32% of officers are from a Catholic background, in sharp contrast to the 8% of officers at the start of the 50:50 recruitment policy. We now have a locally accountable Justice Minister and the devolution of policing powers.
The landscape has completely changed since the formation of the PSNI.
While we should be proud of the progress, we can't be complacent. Change isn't self-sustaining, it has to be nurtured.
Equal recruitment is a coarse instrument, but it has been undeniably effective, making the PSNI more reflective of the society we live in.
It has contributed in a meaningful way to confidence in policing and in attitude changes within it.
It has also created a new generation of role models for young people from a Catholic background.
Our vision is of a community where people can talk openly about policing and about their pride in family members who choose to serve in the PSNI, creating a tradition of service in all communities and pride in policing.
If we're serious about the new beginning to policing, we should not be prepared to watch a slide back to a service that does not represent the communities it serves. Progress is precious. It needs to be nurtured now.