New '˜scandal' over hiring of Border Force officers in NI

Sixteen posts are being sought by the Home Offices Border Force in Northern IrelandSixteen posts are being sought by the Home Offices Border Force in Northern Ireland
Sixteen posts are being sought by the Home Offices Border Force in Northern Ireland
An explanation has been demanded from the Home Office about why a new recruitment drive in the Province appears to exclude a raft of applicants who have police or military backgrounds.

TUV leader Jim Allister has highlighted the fact that the Home Office seems willing to consider certain candidates who have experience in law enforcement or the armed forces for Border Force officer jobs in Great Britain, but not in Northern Ireland.

The government’s own advertisements for the posts state that applicants should have at least two A Levels or equivalent qualifications, or else must have previously served as a Border Force officer for at least two years.

However, at this point the criteria diverge.

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Those applying for the posts in Great Britain are told that even if they do not meet the criteria set out above, they can still qualify so long as they have either “served as a fully attested police officer/ special constable” or have “served in the British Armed Forces”.

This clause does not exist for those applying to work in Northern Ireland.

Mr Allister, MLA for North Antrim, has written to the Home Office to demand a rationale for why “experience in the police or British Armed Forces would qualify someone for a post in Great Britain but not in Northern Ireland”.

He said he had been contacted on behalf of a man with 10 years of experience in the Royal Navy, who would nonetheless not qualify for the Northern Irish job.

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Mr Allister said the situation is tantamount to “discrimination”, branding it “scandalous” and a “gross insult” – particularly in light of the experience which the security services in Northern Ireland have “in dealing with 30 years of terrorism”.

It is the second time in weeks the Home Office has been accused of discrimination over the jobs.

Earlier in April, there were complaints over the requirement for Northern Irish candidates to be British passport holders.

The Home Office later said this had been an error, and that applicants only needed “a full and valid passport” (without specifying which nationality).

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The jobs generally command a salary of between £23,330 and £26,831.

In Northern Ireland, the Home Office is seeking 16 posts, which it describes as part time in nature. It gives the location as Belfast.

In England, Scotland and Wales, it is seeking 550 posts, both part time and full time.

The application information states that Border Force officers work on tasks including checking immigration details of passengers, finding prohibited goods, and helping to counter terrorism.

It lists as its “core values” the following – “commitment; discipline; respect and moral courage”.