HC Deb 04 July 2001 vol 371 cc173-4W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the terms of reference are for the monitoring project being undertaken by Consensia to observe the recruitment process of the Northern Ireland police service; how many volunteers have been tasked to participate in this scheme; what the personal specifications were for volunteers; how they were selected; what the composition is of the monitoring teams, broken down by(a) gender and (b) perceived community origin; and what discussions took place with the civil service trade unions concerning the use of volunteer staff. [730]

Jane Kennedy

Observation of recruitment to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland is being undertaken by a pool of voluntary Community Observers, who are independent of Consensia and who are currently managed by the Police Authority for Northern Ireland. They will become the responsibility of the Policing Board when it is established.

The role of the Independent Community Observers is set out in Regulation 10 of the Police (Recruitment) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001.

The personal specification for Independent Community Observers sets out the qualities and skills that potential candidates should possess. These are:

  1. (a) effective oral and written communication skills;
  2. (b) discretion and impartiality;
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  4. (c)the ability to work w part of a team; and
  5. (d)the ability to make sound judgments.

Applicants for the roles were selected on the basis of the evidence they provided in their application form, and subsequently at interview stage, to demonstrate that they possessed these qualities and skills. A merit list was then compiled from which a pool of 63 Observers was selected.

Of that pool, 53 Observers were trained and commenced observing the recruitment process at the beginning of June 2001.

The breakdown of the pool of 53 Observers, in the format requested, is as follows:

Gender Number
Male 23
Female 30
Total 53

Perceived community origin Number
Protestant 26
Catholic 23
Other 4
Total 53

No discussions took place with the civil service trade unions concerning the use of volunteer staff. The process used was in accordance with best practice guidance for the selection and appointment of volunteers.