A decision by the PSNI to target majority Roman Catholic constituencies with its first recruitment drive since the end of 50:50 recruitment is divisive, a DUP MP has said.
In a letter to Chief Constable Matt Baggott, Gregory Campbell said that the police should equally target everyone.
The 50:50 rule stipulated that half of all recruits had to be Catholic, an attempt to rapidly make the PSNI more representative of the community.
But it had been expected that the ending of that rule — something achieved at a point when more than 30 per cent of the force is Catholic — would have seen a return to a normal selection process.
On Thursday, Mr Campbell wrote to Mr Baggott about the issue. In his letter he said: “There is a clear appearance that this is designed to specifically target applications from that section of the community.
“For 10 years the 50:50 recruitment policy discriminated against a sizeable section of our community on grounds of religion when applying for posts with the police in Northern Ireland.
“Many people had hoped that for the first time after the removal of that legalised discriminatory practice, Protestant applicants would face no barriers on the grounds of perceived religious affiliation in the process of being considered for a career with the police.”
Mr Campbell argued that it was unnecessary to target Catholic constituencies, such as in the west of Northern Ireland, because under past recruitment campaigns where the police had targeted all of the Province, 40 per cent of applicants were Catholic.
“Any new recruitment campaign should involve events across Northern Ireland so that no section of the community feel they will be disadvantaged. Everyone in Northern Ireland who wants a career in policing needs to be confident when they complete their application forms, their religious persuasion will play no part in their chances of acceptance.
“Success must depend only on merit and their ability to carry out their duties.
“If the police proceed with targeting one section of the community, this could lead to similar campaigns being demanded at targeting specific unionist areas for recruitment to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Health Service among others where under-representation of Protestants has existed for many years. This would create an incredibly difficult scenario, which is totally unnecessary.
“I would strongly urge you to re-think this incredibly divisive proposal as a matter of urgency.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “This letter has not yet been received by the PSNI. However once it has been it will be responded to in due course.”
The PSNI has said that the recruitment campaign is attempting to increase applications from those groups currently under-represented within the police but all are welcome to apply.