How Police Now is recruiting record numbers of diverse graduates

Sep 13, 2022 | Case studies, Diversity

ISE award winners, Police Now, explain how an ‘under-represented first’ approach to recruitment attracted and recruited a record number of diverse graduates.

Questions around racial profiling in stop and search, accounts of institutional racism, the murder of Sarah Everard, and text messages revealing a culture of racism, homophobia and misogyny raise questions around the legitimacy of policing.

The need for a representative policing workforce is great but although 14% of the population are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and 50% identify as female, only 8% and 32% of police officers are respectively. 

Police Now’s mission is to attract, recruit and train outstanding graduates with leadership potential to be inspirational police officers who will make a lasting difference in vulnerable communities.  

We’ve taken an ‘under-represented first’ approach, placing recruitment, training and progression of female and ethnic minority graduates at the heart of our neighbourhood policing programme.

In 2020 we committed to recruiting more ethnic minority graduates, at least 20% a year, and ensuring that more than half of our graduates identified as female. As well as this, everyone we hired needed to have a strong commitment to social change and public service.

We needed graduates able to constructively challenge the status quo and tackle racism, bias, and discrimination wherever it is found.  

We faced significant challenges. The appeal of policing as a career has decreased dramatically, and research has also shown that it’s not just an attraction challenge. Black, Asian and minority ethnic students are more likely to stop their application process if their parents are against their career choice and are twice as likely to decline conditional offers than white candidates.

Building trust by openly addressing issues

Our attraction campaign focused on openly addressing the real and complex issues preventing graduates from underrepresented groups from applying.  

We used data to understand specific concerns in different communities, for example, how a graduate in the Pakistanicommunity might feel aboutpolicing,compared toa Black Caribbeangraduate.  

With this insight we built targeted campaigns and boldly addressed difficult realities preventing underrepresented groups from joining the police.We used authentic voices to discuss the issues, while at the same time inspiring with the impact graduates could have on the lives of the most vulnerable. 

Police Constable Sami Halepota said: “Joining the police as a Pakistani Muslim was in itself a challenge. People in that community, myself included, view the police from an angle of fear. That’s linked to post 911 environment where Muslims are instantly seen as suspects. I reached out to my Leadership Development Officer to discuss my concerns about facing racism inside the police and whether or not I would be accepted. It was the start of our professional relationship. He was very supportive and encouraging.”

In the assessment process we used culturally relevant UK scenarios, including the disproportionate use of stop and search, modern day slavery and misogyny within policing culture.  

Retaining diverse graduates through the process

We focused on recruitment speed, outstanding candidate care and removing bias through effective data collection.

Applicantsfrom ethnic minority backgrounds were supported withone-to-one coaching, mentoring from existing participants, and digital live chats for family and friends.

An onboarding portal created a strong sense of community through support networks, social walls, instant messaging, events, video calls and live Q&As.

Candidates rated their experience of the selection process as exceptional with an average rating of +57 (the industry average is +24). 

Supporting diverse graduates

Graduates were supported to lead with a mindset of ‘constructive disruption’, giving them the ability to challenge the status quo.

The two-year programme ensures all participants are set up for success with a focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) through both training and one-to-one coaching and support.

D&I thought leaders and activists inspired participants and students with speakers including Gamal Turawa (the first openly Gay Black officer and member of the Police Diversity Trainer’s Network) and Craig Pinkney (Founder and Director of Solve: The Centre for Youth Violence and Conflict).

Police Constable Latia Suen explained, “We really want to try and do things differently if we can. I think that’s something that is massively encouraged by the programme and the sessions we have in terms of leadership. They’re always challenging us to think differently and outside the box.”

A more diverse cohort

A quarter of the graduates that joined in 2021 identified as Black, Asian or minority ethnic. It’sthelargest proportion achieved innationalpolice recruitment and doublethe 12% hired through direct recruitment into police forces.

Over 50% of our 2021 starters identified as female, with policing achieving 42%. 

All this despite a significant demise of trust and confidence in the police in the last few years.

ISE judges explained why Police Now won the ISE Award for Commitment to Improving Diversity through Student Resourcing: “We were impressed with how Police Now took us on the journey of the context that they were working in and how they involved the wider community to improve ethnic and gender diversity. The language used around diversity was positive to see and clearly shows a wider culture of inclusivity.”

We’re delighted with our progress so far but recognise there is so much more to be done. We’d love to hear from other organisations about initiatives that are working well to drive engagement from ethnic minority university students and graduates.

Read more case studies from ISE Award winners 




Was this article helpful?


Share This