‘Temporary’ 50:50 recruitment provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 to End

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise…  As the BBC reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, published the Government’s response [pdf file] to the public consultation on the temporary 50:50 recruitment provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.  From Owen Paterson’s statement

Owen Paterson said: “Some ten years after the introduction of the provisions, a significant proportion of serving officers – currently 29.76% – are now from a Catholic community background. This is at the top end of the critical mass identified by Patten. It represents a tremendous change since the time of the Patten report when only 8.3% of Royal Ulster Constabulary officers were from a Catholic community background. Last year also saw the completion of devolution, with policing and justice powers transferred from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Executive. With this transformation in the composition of the PSNI and Northern Ireland ’s continued political progress, the use of these special measures can no longer be justified.

The Government, the Department of Justice and the PSNI remain fully committed to the principle of the PSNI being reflective of the society it polices. The provisions have clearly been instrumental in getting us to this point but they were always intended to be temporary and now that the principle has become fully embedded it is right that they come to an end allowing PSNI composition to develop naturally.

We want to see this progress continue and for Catholic representation in the PSNI to grow further over time. We must all play a part. Patten recommended that the key to making the PSNI representative of the communities it serves was for community leaders to actively encourage their young people to join the service and to remove all discouragements from joining. Patten’s vision of a fair, impartial and effective Police Service does not end with the provisions.

Policing is, rightly, now a devolved matter so this issue must be locally owned and taken forward by everyone in Northern Ireland . The Chief Constable will continue to report and be accountable to the Policing Board. The PSNI Shared Future Strategy agreed by the Policing Board demonstrates PSNI’s continuing commitment to promoting equality and diversity, achieving good relations and building trust with the community.

The issue of a PSNI which is reflective of the community it polices is now one which must be owned and taken forward by local politicians, local community leaders and all of the people of Northern Ireland .”  [added emphasis]

The announcement has been welcomed by the NI Justice Minister.  And by some of the NI political parties.

Others?  Not so much…

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  • Sure they haven’t been recruiting for ages now anyway, so what possible difference does it make?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    If policing is a devolved issue then presumably there is technically nothing legal to stop the introduction of a bill in Stormo to reinstate 50:50.

    .. although obvioulsy Unionists would veto such a bill all the legal options should be explored.

  • While I always understood why affirmative action was considered necessary in this case, I’ve always opposed it in all contexts as it discriminates against the innocent.

    I very strongly believe that if someone gets a job over me, the only reason should be that they were better than me – not because either my forebears discriminated against applicants, or they were intimidated into not applying by terrorists.

    I did apply for the police one time. I failed the interview, so at least I can say that 50/50 never came into it!

  • RyanAdams

    About time this benign charade called recruitment ended.

    The principle of recruitment is getting the best person to do the job – This policy basically allowed catholics to be half assed during assessments, while protestants had to work harder to get a chance at the job they probably could have done better.

  • Nunoftheabove

    RyanAdams

    It doesn’t necessarily mean that at all. Do you have evidence that it does and that standards have had to be altered to allow sub-standard candidates into the PSNI ?

  • dennis the menace

    Do you have evidence that it does and that standards have had to be altered to allow sub-standard candidates into the PSNI ?..

    yes just check out their clear up rates

  • qwerty12345

    You know how it is Nun some of these folk think a taig is sub standard the moment the sperm meets the egg.

  • Alf

    Oh the oppression.

  • Old Mortality

    What they need to do now is make the police a less attractive option for anyone. The sheer volume of applicants make this blindingly obvious.

  • Stephen Blacker

    I do not think that looking at all legal options would make a difference to re-instating this as it was agreed during the GFA to discriminate to help reverse a wrong from the past. (as ItwasSammyMcNally suggests)

    Anyway there is not a snowballs chance in hell that the DUP or UUP would agree to this happening again. The UUP would loss more ground as they did when they first agreed to it in 1998 and the DUP are not capable of agreeing anything like 50:50 because they are still unaware that the GFA put them in the place they are today.

    One of the DUP’s top people Mr. Peter Weir said no later than 8.3.2011 in the Stormont Chamber during the planning debate and I quote, “I was there and I am proud to say that I was the 1st person in Northern Ireland to say no to the Belfast Agreement, having read it, and I stick by that position”. Now there is a man of principle (NOT) This along with the new DUP buzz phrase, “the ugly scaffolding of the Belfast Agreement”. I think it is a lot more worrying that a party that talks like that will get another 4 years at the top and they will probably undo the GFA bit by bit when we are still a long way off peace.

    Sorry, a wee bit off topic. I thought this 50:50 could have stayed another few years to bring the balance up a bit more just because it is such a contentious issue. When I look at this issue I dont say 50:50 – I say 10:10 because it would normally be 60:40. It is not as if there is no one from the protestant community getting signed-up.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alf

    You’re the very boy complaining about oppression and has yet has very explicitly justified gerrymandering by the old Stormont administration.

    Would a ‘heads says hypocrisy, tails says bigotry’ prognosis be altogether inappropriate ?

  • qwerty12345

    I see Alf Garnett has woken up, probably disgruntled at the length of hair on John lennon or how the war in indochina is going.

  • Alf

    “Alf

    You’re the very boy complaining about oppression and has yet has very explicitly justified gerrymandering by the old Stormont administration.

    Would a ‘heads says hypocrisy, tails says bigotry’ prognosis be altogether inappropriate ?”

    Yes that was the greatest oppression of all. Worthy of almost four thousand deaths apparently.

    The dead and their families were not of course oppressed.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Stephen Blacker,

    “Anyway there is not a snowballs chance in hell that the DUP or UUP would agree to this happening again.”

    I realise this, but there is no chance of a reformed Stormo on Unionist terms – but that doeisnt stop them jibber-jabbering about it ad-nauseum.

    SF can add it to their wishlist for the next round of horse trading.

  • Stephen Blacker

    ItwasSammyMcNally,

    It is very frustrating watching the slow progress and a major problem for our society is the fact that the strongest unionist party at Stormont are there reluctantly, so they will need to be dragged forward on every issue.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alf

    Are you actually Lord Kilclooney ?

  • Alf

    “Alf

    Are you actually Lord Kilclooney ?”

    Are you actually Ruari O’Brady?

  • Frontier Vulpine

    Given that the PSNI religious split does not yet show that proper community representation has been achieved I would have thought that a continuation would have been more appropriate for the 50:50. Even a tapering off to the actual community split over a period of time would make sense. Its not as if there wasn’t a quid pro quo in terms of the pay-offs that so many RUC officers got which were the equivalent to lottery wins. I am also appalled by, but have actually heard it said in mixed company, the assertion that sub standard Catholics are getting places in the police at the expense of superior Protestants. That is logically bizarre as both religions go through the same recruitment process with minimum standards. The only difference was that proportionally more Catholics than Protestants making the grade were appointed. That its asserted that the clear up rates have dropped is not a result of the recruitment process but because of the amount of experienced officers taken redundancy. I rest my case.

  • Alf

    Frontier,

    Patten said 29 – 32%. That has been achieved. The discrimination will now stop. Celebrate that.

  • Driftwood

    The police in NI is no longer a difficult or dangerous job,
    it’s a frigging doddle, stopping people in bus lanes at 9.29 am etc. Pay them the same as parking attendants, certainly less than squaddies doing a real hard job. £20 grand max until they’ve done 10 years and no pension until 65. There will still be a queue for this easy ride, and expenses that would make an MP blush.
    You don’t even need low level qualifications to get in, nor a fitness test of any value. Council dog wardens need more qualifications, and fitness.

  • Henry94

    It would be expected that normal recruitment would broadly reflect society anyway so as existing officers retire the percentage of Catholics will continue to increase before levelling off.

    The policy was a success and the proof of that will be that it is no longer needed. Policing is sorted and everyone involved deserves credit.

  • Driftwood

    Fitness used to be a big thing in the Police. Like the Fire Brigade. Now look at the 4’2″ rotund females who arrive at your house-by car- which they can barely get out of-, because the local garage has (wrongly) accused you of driving off without paying.
    On producing a receipt they respond with ‘Oh right well whatever’ and head back for a carry out. Then on to park their 4×4 at gibbs island on Strangford Lough (notorious crime hotspot i guess) for the rest of the shift.

  • andnowwhat

    Driftwood

    You make a fine point about the police women of today.

    How well I remember doing my daily run on a fine, sunny day, bedecked in athletic, brief running shorts when I happened to pass a RUC patrol with a fine looking officer.

    Dear me, I thought my shorts were minimal to begin with. Ever tried running with a rocket in the pocket? Turns out, you can’t.

    On the issue of the PSNI’s performance or lack thereoff, a lot of the complaints I here/see are very reflective of the complaints I here/see about the cops in GB. I suspect they are recruiting the wrong people. A “bobby” dos not need 5 A’ levels or a degree just common sense and a set of sphericals

  • vanhelsing

    🙂 wonder when the Equality Commission will balance their own religious make up…

  • Driftwood

    andnowwhat

    A “bobby” dos not need 5 A’ levels or a degree just common sense and a set of sphericals

    In other words, a squaddie!

    but they’re not allowed anymore. Trevor/Calum and Mandy/Niamh find them a bit ‘course’ anyhow. all that aggression and no pc counselling skills. Horrors.

    On the aesthetic issue, most female PSNI now are Hattie Jaques, but sure their media studies degrees mean they’re well educated, like.

  • Driftwood

    *coarse*

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Given that Ulster society is still only moving slowly towards normalisation this look like an irresponsible decision by the SOS and this needs to be carefully explained to him as he struggles to navigate the learning curve of his new job.

    Driftwood,

    After all that womanplaying are we to take it that you are a fine physical male specimen yourself?

  • DC

    Given that the PSNI religious split does not yet show that proper community representation has been achieved

    What sort of community are you talking about here?

    Where I come from it is not representative of the community it serves and the police identity is not reflective of the town it serves.

    70:30 is therefore not representative, it is out of kilter in the other direction.

    50:50 is a centralised form of recruitment done at a regional level that rules out local people in the process, as recruitment to the police is heavily qualified not just as a result of positive discrimination. The outcome is a remote police service.

    The PSNI should try opening up to local recruitment as well and getting more part timers in to police the areas they come from. A new or reformed service could even be created where local police could be given specific ASB powers and trained in human rights, with all the security issues around paramilitarism left for the regional PSNI to deal with.

    As a result you would then have a police service that is properly representative of the area.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Given the premature ending of 50:50 cooperation with the Gardaí should be stepped up.

  • Cynic2

    “Where I come from it is not representative of the community it serves and the police identity is not reflective of the town it serves”

    Ah so you want the ‘identity’ to reflect the local area.So I assume that means local police taking political stands? But in favour of what?

    Some years ago I recall a letter in a local paper here. It recommended that Police Offices on Recruitment be branded with either a large P or C on the forehead so members of the public could choose which police to deal with

    ” A new or reformed service could even be created where local police could be given specific ASB powers and trained in human rights, with all the security issues around paramilitarism left for the regional PSNI to deal with.”

    Aye, and we could easily recruit ‘community volunteers’ as members. I really think this one is a goer. You should suggest it to the Policing Board. We could even put all the costs on the local rates – perhaps levied by the police officers making door to door collections as the local activists used to do in the old days. . As they would know where everyone lives I assume there would be a 100% take!

    Of course, you are right that Human Rights training would be essential, once we had taught some of them to read and write.

  • DC

    Well first of all Cynic the driver behind 50:50 was to have a police force that was more representative of the community it serves – and there are many other ways to achieve a better representation as stated above.

    But if you don’t trust local people which is what is coming across in your post fine – still doesn’t get round the point that the police seem remote to local communities based on the manner in which they arrived into them via 50:50 regional recruitment.

  • DC

    ‘So I assume that means local police taking political stands? But in favour of what?’

    The law?

  • This must be the briefest Temporary Provisions Act NI has ever seen?

  • Tupac

    50:50,lads and lassies,apples and oranges,again and again.
    a mans spiritual,or reiligous convictions should not matter when it comes to law and order.if,for example,a burgler broke into my home,it wouldn’t matter if he was caught by someone from an opposing reiligous belief.only the fact that he be brought to justice.wake up.grow up.or ‘suffer’ will our childern.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Tupac,

    “a mans spiritual,or reiligous convictions should not matter when it comes to law and order”

    It doesn’t – as pointed out many times here it is a proxy for constitutional ideology – and clealry that does matter in the post conflict situation which we are in.

    Perhaps you are another Unionist in denial about the need for change and who opposed 50:50 in Patten and who are out of step will all parties in Ireland (except Unionists of course) and in Britan and the US?