Opinion divided over police attendance at Larne jobs fair

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MEMBERS of Larne’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership are divided as to whether the PSNI should be encouraged to take a recruitment stand at a forthcoming jobs fair in the town.

Councillor Martin Wilson, currently the chairman of Larne Development Forum, said he was “disappointed” that the PSNI were not going to take a stand at the event scheduled to take place in the Town Hall on February 19.

“We have the highest level of young people out of work anywhere in Northern Ireland. This is a chance for the PSNI to come and to show young people there are opportunities in the police,” he said.

Cllr Wilson asked if the powers-that-be could be asked to change their decision so the PSNI could be represented at the jobs fair.

Inspector Glynis Kirkwood-Nagar said that there had been some excellent work experience opportunities carried out recently between pupils at Larne High School and the PSNI and that Larne Grammar and St Killian’s pupils would be able to benefit from the same initiatives soon.

She voiced her disappointment that the PSNI would not be represented at the jobs fair.

Chief Inspector Billy McIlwaine, PSNI head of planning and governance, said there was a distinction between jobs and work experience.

“We are losing people and they are not being replaced when they go. This decision was made by politicians 12-13 years ago and while there used to be 10,000 in the police, now it is now around 7,000. The target is below 7,000.

“It would be disingenuous to say there’s a career in policing when we are not recruiting and haven’t been in more than two years.

“The chief constable has said he would like to recruit more but that doesn’t mean there will be recruitment next year, or the year after even. It would be disingenuous to send police to an event like this on the pretext there’s jobs when there are not,” he added.

PCSP vice-chairman Tommy Mayne said he felt the PSNI should attend, even if it was to give young people “something to look forward to”.

Insp Kirkwood-Nagar said she agreed, commenting on the level of fitness that was required by police entrants and the length of time this could take to achieve.

Chief Insp McIlwaine said he would take the comments back to senior officers and also suggested that H District commander, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble could be contacted over the issue.

Independent PCSP member Laurence Wilson, a director of Larne Skills Development Ltd, said that in his experience there was nothing more frustrating for those seeking work than to go to a stand at a jobs fair and find out there was nothing on offer.

“I think it is best if the police are not there if they have nothing to offer,” he said. “Let them see the jobs, not pretend,” he said.