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Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal Order)

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 3 February 2010

Today I am laying before Parliament the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal of Temporary Provisions) Order 2010. This order will continue in force the temporary provisions regarding the appointment of police officers and police support staff for a further, final year to 28 March 2011.

A further one-year renewal will enable the Government to reach their target of 30 per cent. Catholic representation in PSNI by March 2011. This is in line with the commitment made in the St. Andrews agreement that the 50:50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Patten target for Catholic officers has been achieved. It is our intention, if the 30 per cent. target is reached before March 2011, to return to Parliament to lapse the provisions.

Before deciding to renew the provisions, we have considered carefully the responses we received to a full 12-week review of the effectiveness of the temporary provisions. This review formed part of the Secretary of State’s statutory duty to have regard to progress made towards ensuring that membership of the police and police support staff is representative of the community in Northern Ireland, and to consult the Policing Board. The consultation ended on 22 January 2010.

Since the introduction of the temporary provisions in 2001, Catholic composition has risen from 8.3 per cent. to 27.68 per cent.. This represents substantial progress towards a more representative police service. There is, however, still a short distance to go before the target of 30 per cent. Catholic representation is achieved. For these reasons, and after looking carefully at the responses to the consultation, the Secretary of State has decided that the temporary provisions should be renewed for a further year to 28 March 2011.

There will be an opportunity to debate the order in both Houses of Parliament.