By Sean Ryan - 28 October, 2017
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will allow new recruits to the force to undertake selection tests online, rather than in person as part of a measure to encourage more Catholics to join the force.
The PSNI recently launched a new campaign to recruit over 300 constables to its ranks by next summer, to compensate for a number of retirements from the force in recent years. Speaking this week to the Irish News newspaper, Deputy Chief Constable, Drew Harris, said, ‘’Following our last campaign in 2015 we commissioned Deloitte our independent recruitment company to undertake research to identify and understand barriers affecting our recruitment process.’’ He added that one of the issues identified included having to take selection tests in person at a centre rather than online which proved to be a chill factor, particularly for applicants from the Catholic community, and he said that the PSNI has now updated its recruitment processes as a result. He continued, “The PSNI is committed to being representative of the community we serve and welcomes applications from across all sections of the community.”
Between 2001 and 2011, a 50/50 recruitment drive took place. It was introduced as part of the Patten Report, and it was intended that half of all officers had to be Catholic. It was brought to an end in 2011 when the number of officers from a Catholic background rose from 8% to around 30%.
Last year the PSNI ordered a probe into why so few Catholics were applying to join the organisation amid serious concern over representation levels. Recruitment drives had struggled to attract new Catholic officers, despite campaigns targeted specifically at the nationalist/republican communities. Just 30% of those who applied through recent recruitment drives were from a Catholic background, and just over 20% of those made it through on merit. The results of the probe indicated that Catholic recruitment would improve if selection tests were done online.
The online assessment will test applicants’ verbal reasoning as well as situational judgement, followed by further assessment stages. Applications close on 10th November.