Storey – “Chief Constable can’t ignore PSNI recruitment problem”

22 August 2019

DUP Group Leader on the Policing Board Mervyn Storey MLA has welcomed the Chief Constable’s commitment to recruit more officers but has reiterated that 50:50 recruitment was sectarian and a failure.  He also urged nationalist and republican politicians to give greater support for recruits from those backgrounds.

Mervyn Storey MLA

Mervyn Storey

Mr Storey said,

“We want to see more officers on the streets from every background. This Chief Constable must also call out the facts that there is a problem in nationalist and republican areas both with recruitment and with cooperation. 

This is not a time to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem. We will be talking to the Chief Constable about how he will address this matter.

In June 2018, the former Chief Constable told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee there was a “real need for wider nationalism to take yet another step in terms of policing” and it required “politicians, civic leaders and church leaders to advocate for a career in policing.”

These comments were echoed by ACC Stephen Martin in October last year.  Indeed, he went further in saying a catholic recruit may have to leave the community where they live or their local GAA club.

Despite these stark messages from senior officers, there was no notable change following this.  A recruitment fair in a nationalist area had to be cancelled, passing out parades were ignored by the republican leadership and outrageous religious generalisations were made about the PSNI senior team. 

50:50 recruitment was flawed and sectarian and is not the answer.  People should not be selected on the basis of their religion but on their ability. 

There are talented potential recruits in the nationalist and republican community but they do not feel supported in pursuing a career in policing. This major obstacle must be addressed far beyond the corridors of Knock headquarters. 

As ACC Martin said, “churches, political parties, community, cultural and sporting backgrounds, schools” all have a role to play.”

Note to editors

- Irish Times article from October 2018 with ACC Martin’s comments

- The Chief Constable’s comments to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee can be found here  (key remarks at 3:42)

- News article including SDLP’s response to Chief Constable’s comments:

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