Police launch recruitment drive

Police launch recruitment drive

Women, Catholics and those from the west of Northern Ireland are being targeted in a new PSNI recruitment drive.

It's the first time the organisation has recruited in over three years and it is hoping to strengthen its numbers by 100 officers.

Plans are also in place to recruit hundreds more next year, should funding be approved.

However, the Police Federation has said the number is more than half what is needed and urged the PSNI to recruit an extra 1,000 officers

As part of its campaign, the PSNI is holding a number of events to promote and encourage applications.

They are particularly keen for applicants from Fermanagh, Tyrone and Londonderry.

Police are also encouraging young people, those from the Catholic community and those from deprived areas to apply.

Speaking to UTV, Deputy Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie explained: "We want to make sure we have sufficient police officer resilience to deal with the challenges ahead.

"Certainly we have been under some pressure over the last few months with regard to our police resources so it is important we keep that resilience up.

"Also because we are losing a lot of experienced officers through retirement we feel time is right to open up our doors."

We would really like people from perhaps areas that would not have thought about policing as a career before to apply, in particular those from areas of social disadvantage.

Deputy Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie

She continued: "In the first tranche we will recruit 100 officers and after that a maximum of 378 officers in the next year subject, of course to budget confirmation.

"We hope that will bring us up to just under 7,000 officers, subject to consultation with the Policing Board.

"It is a really positive thing that we are opening our doors again to bring in new and younger police officers and in fact specifically we are targeting younger people between 18 and 24.

"We are also targeting women, Catholics and for people from the west of Northern Ireland. So Londonderry/Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh in particular."

Meanwhile at a Stormont Justice Committee meeting, Chief Constable Matt Baggott admitted that the service was "on a downward path in terms of numbers".

"There is a genuine need," he said. "At the moment, our organisation is tired."

The PSNI head said there had been 3,000 fewer arrests compared to the same period for 2012 because police officers had to focus more attention on policing public disorder.

Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation union which represents thousands of rank and file officers, has pressed for the PSNI to recruit an additional 1,000 officers after a turbulent year left hundreds of police injured and resources stretched.

Mr Spence has claimed some frontline officers were facing burn-out having to work 16 to 20-hour days through the recent loyalist disorder.

Applicants will need five GCSEs between A and C grades and a recognised IT qualification and can expect a starting salary of £23,000.

In 2011 the 50/50 recruitment drive to increase the number of Catholic police officers ended.

The controversial recruitment policy was introduced after the Patten Report into policing reform in 1999 and meant equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics were recruited.

The process was ended by the then Secretary of State Owen Patterson when nearly 30% of officers came from a Catholic background.

Prior to its introduction only 8% of RUC officers came from within the Catholic community.

© UTV

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