A legislative proposal removing age from the eligibility criteria in hiring special constables was voted into law on Friday.
The proposal, tabled by ruling Disy, was passed with 50 votes in favour and two abstentions.
Amendments to the proposal were rejected, with the exception of one by main opposition Akel, which credits candidates who have completed their mandatory army service with an extra grading point, thus awarding them an advantage over those who have not.
House Legal Affairs committee chairman Yiorgos Georgiou said the legislative framework proposed by the government, which introduces objective recruiting criteria focusing on knowledge, physical, and psychometric testing and scraps personal interviews, corrects the distorted police hiring system.
“The new framework raises age limits for entry to the police force to 35, from 28, and abolishes it for special constables and specialised officers, with the exception of those manning aircraft and watercraft,” he said.
With regard to an amendment by Diko, which asked that the age limit be abolished altogether, Georgiou said a policeman over 45 and 50 “can’t take part in operations”, adding that the resources invested by the state in their training will go to waste, since they would retire shortly thereafter.
Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said the legislation modernised the recruiting criteria, but defended the party’s proposal for the abolition of age limits altogether.
“Diko proposes the full abolition of age limits as a matter of principle, because it constitutes a form of discrimination, a view supported by a report by the Ombudswoman,” she said.
Erotokritou reasoned that, since candidates are screened with the new, stricter criteria, there is no need for an age limit, and argued that Diko’s amendment is in line with what stands in other European Union countries.
Akel deputy Aristos Damianou said that the party’s goal was to minimise the executive’s ability to influence police hirings by setting objective criteria.
“If problems come up along the way, parliament is here to correct them,” he said.
The Citizens’ Alliance chief, Yiorgos Lillikas, said the bills are a step in the right direction, though “we are not saying we have created the perfect system”.
“These are the security forces, and the hiring criteria should be different to those applicable in the rest of the public service,” he said.
“These are people who will carry guns, and they should be operationally up to the task.”
The Greens’ Yiorgos Perdikis said that behind the legal minutiae are people who are directly affected, and argued that if there is no system in place to evaluate the credibility of psychometric and other testing, then the new criteria are a moot point.
“Also, why would a policeman needed to assume duties of monitoring electronic systems be ineligible because of flat feet, when 30 per cent of the population has flat feet?” he said.