Potential police officers are joining the Metropolitan Police instead of the PSNI because of the 50:50 quota system, Alliance Leader David Ford has said.
Mr Ford was speaking after he and Alliance’s North Belfast Assembly candidate, Marjorie Hawkins, had a meeting yesterday with senior police officer, to discuss issues such as organised crime and paramilitary activity in North Belfast and Newtownabbey.
Mr Ford said: “Not only are potential police recruits from Northern Ireland joining ‘The Met’ instead, but many who later apply to join the PSNI as qualified officers are being turned down because they are not Catholic. Despite recent talk of seconding detectives from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the 50:50 quota is going to mean that those seeking to join the PSNI on a permanent basis won’t get beyond the application stage.
“The same cannot be said about future secondments from the Garda, where the 50:50 quota does not apply. As it is only about three percent Protestant, this leaves the Government open to yet further accusations of discrimination.”
Ms Hawkins said: “This shortage of detectives in the North Belfast district is having a very negative effect on bringing criminals to justice. The 50:50 quota should be abolished when the Government reconsiders the situation next year. If the SDLP can accept there is no need for a quota for part-time officers, then they have little argument for those who are full-time.
“We have a gaping hole in the number of officers that even Patten recommended, officers that are sorely needed in Newtownabbey and North Belfast. Alliance believes that this discrimination is wrong, and should be replaced with a form of affirmative action in order to rectify the religious imbalance in the PSNI.”