SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly has written to Chief Constable Simon Byrne seeking an explanation over recent PSNI arrest figures.
It has emerged nearly twice the number of Catholics than Protestants have been arrested and charged in the North over the past five years.
The figures were obtained by the Detail through a Freedom of Information request.
Mrs Kelly raised the matter with the Policing Board last week, but did not receive a satisfactory response.
Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:
“These figures have rightly caused significant concern in our community. That Catholics and Protestants roughly make up a similar proportion of our population, but one side is twice as likely to be arrested than the other requires an immediate explanation at the very least.
“When I raised the matter with Acting Assistant Chief Constable Sam Donaldson last week he told me that he was confident the PSNI were unbiased, but was unable to shed any further light on the situation. Following this I have written to Chief Constable Simon Byrne seeking his view on these damning statistics.
“While nobody is suggesting that the PSNI are targeting one community over the other, we need to get to the bottom of these figures and do all we can to address them. They could be linked to issues like deprivation and poverty, or the method of disposal being offered to one side of the community when arrested. While we need to see leadership in our communities to change this situation, we also need to see a willingness from police to engage with communities to address these issues.
“These statistics also put paid to the claims from some within the unionist community that there is a two-tier approach to policing which negatively affects them. If anything, the disparity works in the opposite direction and I look forward to engaging with the Chief Constable to seek assurances that there is consistency of approach to those who break the law across all District Command areas and within them.”