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Cyprus

Police recruiting criteria ‘ageist’ says watchdog

THE AGE limits included in the new police recruiting regulations were discriminatory and in violation of the law, according to the ombudswoman.

The issue was raised during a meeting of the House Legal Affairs Committee, which discussed the new hiring regulations for the police.

According to a report by the ombudswoman, the age limits set – maximum 40 for police officers and 35 for special constables – constituted discrimination and were therefore in violation of the law.

The ombudswoman said the limits set by the regulations were not justified as regards the objective, which was the force’s operational readiness.

There were more appropriate and credible ways to ensure those hired by the force could meet the demands of the position, the ombudswoman said.

She said medicals, athletic trials, and other specialised tests could be used to determine a candidate’s physical condition, instead of having age as the sole criterion.

The age criteria, she said, were based only on the perception that people of a higher age were in worse physical shape than younger individuals.

This perception is inaccurate because it did not correspond to any substantiated rule, she said, and in numerous cases the opposite may be true.

Committee chairman, DISY MP, Giorgos Georgiou, said the new regulations would contribute in creating a better and more specialised police force.

Georgiou said the aim was to put the regulations to the vote by the end of September. The committee will continue its discussion in two weeks, by which time MPs expect to have the attorney-general’s view on the matter raised by the ombudswoman.

Andreas Symeou, chairman of the police association, told reporters after the meeting that they strongly disagreed with scrapping the age limit.

Symeou suggested that adopting the ombudswoman’s views would mean a 58-year-old could become an officer after passing the exams and five years later – the time it takes to train an officer – they would be ready to retire, wasting the taxpayer’s money.

He said MPs should take into serious consideration that police are a security force with a particular role and not everyone over 35-40 can take on operational duties.

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