04 February 2020
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has said support for the police is required in both word and deed from all political parties. He was speaking as the PSNI launched its latest recruitment drive.
DUP Spokesman on International Development and Cabinet Office
The DUP MP said, "Everyone in Northern Ireland should welcome the recruitment of more police officers. The men and women who will graduate as officers will be pursuing a career in which they will serve all in our community, but importantly who do so knowing a potential risk to their own safety.
The most successful police service will be one which best reflects the society that it serves. Unfortunately, issues of underrepresentation have now become simplified to being a debate on whether or not there should be discrimination in recruitment.
Policing is not the only area of Northern Ireland’s public sector where there are issues of underrepresentation. Housing has always been a very contentious issue in Northern Ireland, yet it would be outrageous to suggest that Protestant underrepresentation in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive should be tackled through setting aside the law and instituting discrimination in recruitment.
Even within policing no one is proposing such measures to tackle the underrepresentation of women, ethnic minorities or working class Protestants. It is only in the area of Catholic recruitment do we hear repeated calls for this type of discrimination.
The previous Chief Constable highlighted what he called the “attrition rate” of Catholic recruits in June 2018 when addressing the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. He also said 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”.
It is time for all political parties and community representatives to demonstrate leadership and advocate support for a career in policing both in word and deed. A clear signal from those representatives standing four-square behind police recruits is absolutely vital to end the situation where a former vice-chair of the Policing Board would be “surprised” that a police officer would live in a “nationalist” part of Londonderry.
For some however it is easier to retreat to calls for 50:50 recruitment rather than deal with those underlying issues highlighted by the former Chief Constable and many others."