Police watchdogs have welcomed the success of new recruitment processes which have increased BME representation among prospective candidates to its highest levels.
Leicestershire Police has introduced a series of new schemes to ensure that the make-up of the force reflects the diversity of the community and attract higher numbers of BME candidates, female police officers, disabled candidates and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) recruits.
Members of Lord Willy Bach’s Ethics, Integrity and Complaints Committee were told that three recruitment campaigns had been held since May 2017 when the force was in a position to boost the frontline for the first time in several years.
The latest of these, held between April and June this year, saw a record level of BME candidates apply at 20.66% of which 19.35% of these applications are currently still active. Meanwhile, 40.41% of applicants were women, 3.13% had a disability and 8.15% identified as LGBT.
The current diversity breakdown of police officers within the force as of August 2018 is 29% female, 7.5% BME, 4% disabled and 8% BME.
Although the recruitment process is ongoing and no final figure for representation is available yet, the latest campaign shows much progress has been made in attracting a greater number of female and BME candidates.
The success is chiefly due to the work of a new Gold Group chaired by the Chief Constable to improve representation within the force. Initiatives have included the launch of a new informal mentorship scheme whereby candidates are given access to serving officers from a variety of backgrounds and ranks who share their experiences and local neighbourhood officers encouraging applications within their different communities.
The Commissioner, who attends this Gold Group, has always been clear about his desire to increase representation and his budget this year enabled a positive action post to help recruit an ever-more representative workforce.
Commenting on the results, Committee Chairman Professor Cillian Ryan said: “As a committee we are encouraged by the vast progress made to ensure that the make-up of the police reflects the community we serve and we welcome increased diversity among the workforce, particularly in respect of BME representation and female police officers.
“All stages of the recruitment process have been examined and improved to ensure prospective recruits feel supported and encouraged throughout their experience and we are particularly impressed by the force’s new mentorship scheme which teams candidates with serving officers to breakdown some of the myths about the role.
“While there has been a marked improvement, there is always more work to do and we will continue to monitor the force’s recruitment results in future to ensure the drive to achieve balance remains a priority.”
The new mentorship scheme supported 34 applicants during the last recruitment campaign, which ran between November 2017 and January 2018, and involved 24 force mentors. As part of the scheme applicants were able to visit local police stations and even shadow officers during the course of their patrol duties.
Other initiatives included website and social media campaigning including live Q&A sessions with officers and HR staff on Facebook, #MakeADifference ‘Role Model’ videos featuring officers from all backgrounds and ranks promoting the job and revealing their personal experiences, media interviews and campaigning, recruitment seminars and ‘pop up’ recruitment events attended by neighbourhood police officers and targeted towards minority communities.
The force’s Diversity and Inclusion Unit now has two dedicated officers whose role is to improve the diversity of applicants across all roles within the organisation.
It is currently working on the introduction of a new police officer apprenticeship scheme in association with Human Resources, East Midlands Collaborative Human Resources and De Montfort University.
The Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) is a structured three-year degree apprenticeship will enable people to perform the paid role of Police Constable and develop their skills operationally while also attaining academic qualifications in Professional Policing Practice which will be fully funded. The first cohort of 18 apprentices joined the force on Monday 24 September.
Once the apprenticeship is complete, apprentices will be confirmed in post as a Police Constable.
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Posted on Thursday 27th September 2018