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Cyprus

Building a better police force: new recruitment criteria in the offing

By Philip Mark

Future police officers will have to be taller, leaner and more psychologically predisposed to being in the profession, according to a new bill being sent to the House for discussion.

The changes being proposed, having been approved by the Cabinet in March, are considered part of the upgrading and reorganisation of the police and follow evaluation criteria used by European Union and United States forces.

Personal interviews, once a major part of the evaluation process will now be replaced by psychometric tests through which applicants can demonstrate their ability and suitability to serve in the force. This is in order to make sure that objectivity and meritocracy are the primary selection criterion and supposedly limit subjective judgment to a minimum.

“We want to give a clear signal to the whole of society and especially to the members of the police that our goal is to implement as much as is possible more objective criteria for limiting as far as possible, subjective judgment in the case of recruitment.” Justice Minister Ionas Nicholaou said.

“The need of a personal interview has been substituted through these tests. We believe this is the way to select suitable people with a rational combination of knowledge, mental stability and fitness, necessary criteria to be able to gradually modernise the police, as is the desire of the government and the whole of society.”

The psychometric tests used are meant to determine the suitability of each candidate to respond to particular situations and to test whether or not he or she has respect for law and order, human rights, is honest or corruptible. Computer programs, psychologists and sociologists will monitor and assess each person and subject them to the relevant tests.

The minimum height for women wishing to join the force has been raised from 160 to 165 cm while for men from the current 165 to 170. A Body Mass Index test to weed out possibly overweight candidate has also been introduced into the equation.

The new physical tests being proposed will be a lot tougher than existing ones while written exams set out by the examination committee of the ministry of education, are similar to those for entrance to universities.
Asked about the 460 vacancies in the police and 110 in the fire service and whether they would be filled, the minister said that it was up to the finance ministry to release the required funding before any decisions were made.


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