TUV challenges police over first drive to recruit LGBT officers

PSNI Supt Emma Bond, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris and Anne Connolly, chair of NI Policing Board, publicising the PSNIs participation in the Belfast Pride event earlier this year

TUV leader Jim Allister has challenged the PSNI to justify a number of planned recruitment drives for members of the LGBT community for the first time.

Three information evenings will be held early next month in Belfast and Newry supported by LGBT support groups. The PSNI aims to employ 300 new officers generally by the end of March next year.

But Mr Allister said it is already unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. “So, why is the PSNI falling over itself to pander to this selected group in society?” he asked.

“In actively seeking LGBT recruits the PSNI claims their under representation. How has this been measured and against what is it being bench-marked?”

He added: “What percentage of the PSNI is the chief constable hoping to attain for LGBT officers?

“Many would believe that the LGBT community already gets special treatment from the PSNI.

“I don’t recall them painting any Land Rovers in the colours of the Loyal Orders for the 12th – in spite of the fact that the order’s halls are regularly subject to hate attacks in a way which would make UK-wide news if they were directed against the LGBT community. There have been 655 Orange halls attacked since 1970.”

He accused Chief Constable George Hamilton of using politically loaded language with the term “equal marriage” and asked if the PSNI funded this year’s Pride event.

The MLA also asked if female suspects have a right to object to “biological men” with a transgender identity searching them.

He added: “I’m told there is currently a recruit going through training who wakes up in the morning and decides whether they are going to be a man or a woman that day – they have been given a male and female uniform.”

The PSNI responded that no student officer has identified as “genderfluid” but that arrangements can be made in this area.

“There are comprehensive student welfare and student officer support programmes in place which include confidential consultation and advisory services that would allow any officer to make the disclosure in order that appropriate arrangements may be made,” a spokeswoman said.

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris did not provide statistics about under-representation but said there were no specific LGBT recruitment targets.

“As part of our ongoing engagement towards under-represented groups within our organisation we have been working closely with a number of external agencies and we will be holding a number of information sessions regarding our current recruitment campaign,” he said.

“All officers are appointed on merit and I would encourage all members from under-represented groups to apply to join the Police Service.

“We do not have any specific targets for under-represented groups and it remains our intention that the PSNI is committed to ensuring our workforce is representative of the community we serve and that we are seen as an employer of choice.”

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