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Patten should be fully implemented

At a meeting of the Policing Board's human resources committee it was revealed that the number of new Catholic recruits leaving the PSNI is disproportionately high.

We intend to look into the reasons behind that and I believe that there are still cultural issues within the PSNI which lead to Catholic recruits being more likely to leave the service.

Therefore mechanisms such as 50/50 recruitment should continue until the service can address the baggage of sub-culture and under-representation.

Aside from 50/50, it was envisaged under Patten that the accommodation of a process called 'lateral entry' would help deal with the more severe under-representation of Catholics at the higher levels of the service.

Unfortunately, this has not come to pass.

Both the British and Irish governments have not shown the political will necessary to deal with the barriers to gardai wanting to join the PSNI in this way.

The importance of the lateral entry mechanism cannot be underestimated.

In the Chief Constable's annual report, it states that the "PSNI wants to have a workforce that is reflective of the society it serves" and "it is through initiatives such as the 50/50 legislation that the PSNI hopes to establish a truly reflective workforce."

So, clearly, the police have indicated their support for the continuation of initiatives such as 50/50.

With the dawning of a devolved policing administration we should be trying to ensure that community confidence in the police increases.

A fall in Catholic representation, or a stalling of it, will damage the image of the PSNI and both the service and the board should not underestimate the impact of that.

DAITHI McKAY (Sinn Fein)

MLA for North Antrim


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