A major factor in delivering the Good Friday Agreement was the establishment of the Patten Commission on Policing, which subsequently instigated a 50:50 recruitment policy in the new Police Service of Northern Ireland for Catholics and Protestants.
However, in March 2011, the then-Secretary of State Owen Paterson ended the practice, which lead to widespread anger, given just below 30% of the officers were from a Catholic background at that time.
Given it is now five years from that decision, BtP decided to investigate the current state of the PSNI in relation to community makeup.
Current staff composition
At the time of writing, 67.32% of Police Officers were from the Protestant community, whilst 31.13% were from the Catholic community. In terms of support staff for the PSNI, 78.31% of these staff are from the Protestant community, whilst 19.61% are from the Catholic community, the rest in both categories are marked ‘Undetermined’.
Prospective Police Constables are required to apply, be granted a place at the Police Training College, and pass their course there.
BtP sought the community breakdown of all applicants, successful and unsuccessful, in the last three years. It should be noted that the 2014 intake have not yet completed training, and the 2015 tranche have not yet been appointed to the College stage of the process.
In all of the years, the percentage applicants from the Protestant community have reached a high of 67.51% in 2014 and their lowest, 65.30% in 2015.
The number of applicants from the Catholic community have hovered around the 30% mark, 31.81% in 2015 being the highest, and the lowest in 2013 at 30.62%.
Of those applicants who were successful in being allowed to progress to the PSNI Training College, the percentages seem fairly static in 2013 and 2014, however the figures underlying these are surprising.
In 2013, 319 members of the Protestant community progressed, compared to only 77 members of the Catholic community. This works out as 79.5% Protestant, 19.2% Catholic.
These figures mean that for 2013, just over 6% of applicants from the Protestant community progressed to the College stage, whilst just over 3% of applicants from the Catholic community progressed.
In 2014, the figures are more stark. 215 Protestants progressed to the College compared to only 46 from the Catholic community.
Of the 2013 intake, the graduation percentage for each community match that of the applicant breakdown, however the figures tell a different story.
Of all of the applicants in total from the beginning of the process, those to graduate from PSNI Training College from the Catholic community add to a mere 0.94%, whilst those from 5% of those from a Protestant background graduated.
Given those who entered the College in 2014 are still in training, the figures of those still in training and those who have graduated are;
145 Protestants remain in training at the College, compared to 31 members of the Catholic community. 63 Protestants from that cohort have so far graduated, compared to 14 Catholic graduates.
The figures for 2015 show only those who have applied and no sifting has been completed to progress to the College stage.
3,590 members of the Protestant community applied to the PSNI, with 1749 Catholics applying.
We asked the PSNI to outline how many officers were promoted in the last three years, broken down by community makeup.
Since 1st Jan 2013, 321 officers were granted a promotion in the PSNI.
The breakdown is as follows:
226 or 70.04% were Protestant, 90 or 28.04% were Catholic and 5 or 1.86% were ‘undetermined’
In terms of numbers by rank, these break down as follows:
The vast majority of promotions were granted to constables elevated to Sergeant, 172, with of course one new Chief Constable being appointed. The figures, just for information, are as follows (these are all promotions, not broken down by community designation):
Chief Constable 1
Deputy Chief Constable 1
Asst Chief Constable 2
Chief Superintendent 6
Chief Inspector 39