SDLP Police Council member Dolores Kelly believes more work needs to be done to encourage Catholics to join the PSNI as the force launches its new recruitment drive today.
In July of this year, 32% of PSNI agents were of Catholic origin, 66% of whom were of Protestant origin.
During a recruitment drive last year, Police Chief Simon Byrne said the increase in the number of Catholic police officers could be addressed by first encouraging people in the community to join the force as staff. civil.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the RUC’s name change to PSNI.
The Patten Report on Police Reform in Northern Ireland recommended the name change which was a key part of the peace process.
Upper Bann MP Kelly said this week’s anniversary was a “milestone” for the PSNI and was the perfect opportunity to reaffirm the principle of a shared police force.
She added that the PSNI, as a shared police force, was a “significant departure from the institutionalized sectarianism represented by the RUC”.
“It is a great regret that the British government has abandoned its initial 50:50 recruiting commitment and that as a result an initial increase in the number of Catholics joining the service has declined,” said Kelly.
“Catholics now represent only 32% of police services and without action, this figure is likely to decline even more in the years to come.
“The SDLP has always encouraged Catholics to consider a career with the PSNI and I reiterate that call today.
Ms Kelly said that despite attempts by “certain narrow-minded elements in our communities” to dissuade Catholics from considering employment in the police, this is a career to be proud of.
“Police officers play a vital role in our society, protecting the public and ensuring the safety of our communities, often putting themselves at great risk,” she said.
“Our police service is not perfect, they are always wrong, like all of us, but we have come a long way in the past two decades.
“Joining the police gives people a wide range of opportunities, the opportunity to grow in their careers and provide a good life for their families.
“We need to do everything we can to encourage more Catholics to join the PSNI so that we have a police service that is truly representative of our society. “