28/03/2007

House of Lords vote for ‘50/50’ police force

The House of Lords has renewed the 50/50 recruitment rule for the PSNI by a majority of 44.

It puts into practice a recommendation made in 1999 by Lord Patten that the local police force should be split evenly between Catholics and Protestants.

The result of the vote was 141 to 97. Former UUP leader Lord Trimble, however, criticised the move saying reverse discrimination would be counter-productive.

Government Northern Ireland spokesman Lord Rooker disagreed saying: “Nobody who has been appointed to the PSNI in the last six years, has failed to be done on merit.

“All of them have gone through the merit, all of them have qualified to be United Kingdom police officers.”

He continued: “Every one who has been appointed a police officer has got through the merit bar… they have all been chosen on the 50/50 basis from the highest on the compartment of Catholics and non-Catholics.

“Nobody has been appointed from the Catholic community that it is not qualified to be a United Kingdom police officer and neither will they be.”

The Patten Report was developed to try and encourage a more balanced Police Service of Northern Ireland, and means 50% of all new recruits must be from the Catholic community.

(JM/KMcA)

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