Police Service of Northern Ireland begins recruitment drive
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has launched a campaign to recruit 100 new officers and hopes to recruit nearly 400 more next year.
It is the PSNI's first recruitment drive in more than three years, and the first since the end of the 50-50 rule.
The recruitment rule, which operated from 2001-2011, meant half of all new officers had to be Catholics.
The PSNI has said it needs at least 7,000 officers to meet its operational needs.
The last time new PSNI recruits took part in their traditional passing out parade was in March 2011.
Recruitment was halted at that time because of funding pressures, but senior commanders now say they have no option but to recruit to maintain "operational resilience".
That is, to have enough officers to do the job.
While its current workforce is close to this figure, the number is falling by about 200 a year due to to reasons such as officers retiring.'Potential surges'
The PSNI wants to recruit 100 officers before the end of next March, and it has submitted a business plan to Justice Minister David Ford requesting funding for another 378 officers in the next financial year.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said they were encouraging applications from Catholics, women and young people.
"We believe we need to deliver a police service for the whole of Northern Ireland to keep people safe, and to deal with the surges in demand we've seen recently and the potential surges in the future," she said.
New recruits will start on a salary of just over £23,000 a year.