The Secretary of State has announced his intention to consult on the temporary provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000, which include the 50:50 provisions. He is minded not to renew the provisions, which will expire on 28 March 2011.
Owen Paterson said: “The last ten years have seen significant change in the composition of the PSNI. At the time of the Patten report, Catholic composition in the Royal Ulster Constabulary stood at just 8.3%. Today, over 29% of serving officers in the PSNI are from a Catholic background. This is within the target range set out by Patten and the PSNI is now broadly reflective of the community it serves. The provisions have clearly played an important role in getting us to this point, but it was always envisaged that they would be of a temporary nature.
“Northern Ireland has enjoyed significant political stability and normality in recent years. The transfer of policing and justice powers to a locally elected minister on 12 April put in place the final piece of the new policing structures envisaged in both the Patten Report and the Belfast Agreement of 1998. In this context, and nearly a decade after their introduction, now is the time to consider the future of the temporary provisions.
“These provisions were last consulted on by the previous administration in 2009. In my view the balance of the argument favours letting the provisions lapse in March next year but I will, of course, reflect carefully on the outcome of the consultation.
“It is important that local politicians, community leaders and people all across Northern Ireland ensure that the PSNI remains a representative police service and that everyone who wishes to pursue a career in the PSNI is encouraged to do so.”