NI born Catholics account for just 26% of PSNI officers…

Bill Breathnach is  Writer and TV researcher based in Connemara. Interested in economics, politics and all things cultural…

Catholics presently make up 31.7% of PSNI officers. This figure comes from statistics provided as part of a response from the force to a recent Freedom of Information request. Indeed, this percentage barely differs from the figure of 32% quoted in the media 2021. However, recent data provides a more detailed breakdown of PSNI statistics and shows that Catholic officers born in Northern Ireland make up just 26.4% of the force.

Catholic officers are nearly three times more likely than their Protestant counterparts to be born outside of Northern Ireland. Among the 15.5% of Catholic officers born outside the region, 6.3% were born in England and 5.2% were born in the Republic of Ireland.

Among the 5.7% of Protestant officers born outside Northern Ireland, 3.5% were born in England.

1.33% of PSNI officers are of an “Undetermined” background, not recorded as Catholic or Protestant. The majority of these officers were born in England.

Police demographics have been a major issue for the PSNI since its inception in 2001. The force pursued a 50/50 “affirmative action” recruitment policy, hiring an equal number of Catholics and Protestants until the measure was lifted in 2011.

The purpose of this was to increase representation from Northern Ireland’s nationalist community in the police. Although figures from recent recruitment drives show that most recent police recruits are of a Protestant background, the PSNI still maintains that it makes efforts to ensure that the force is “representative” of the community in general.

These newly released figures from the PSNI therefore raise questions about the recruitment of Catholic officers, and whether Catholics from outside Northern Ireland are being disproportionately recruited as a response to nationalist reluctance join the police.

All of Northern Ireland’s main political parties were invited to comment on this matter. None of them responded.

The raw data from the PSNI’s response to the Freedom of Information request are available below.


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