6 Role in recruitment to the profession
61. On 31 March 2014, some 209,362 were employed
by the 43 police forces of England and Wales. This was comprised
of 127,909 police officers, 64,097 police staff, 13,066 police
community support officers (PCSOs), and 17,789 special constables.
There were 6,715 minority ethnic police officers, who constituted
5.2% of the police officer total.Figure
3: Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2014
Source: An Independent Review of the Police Disciplinary
System in England and Wales
Officer numbers rose from the previous year in 10
forces and fell in 33 forces. As figure 4 shows, overall police
officer strength is falling, but at a slower rate than in previous
years. The Metropolitan Police had the most officers (24.2%).
The eight metropolitan forces (City of London, Greater Manchester,
Merseyside, Metropolitan Police, Northumbria, South Yorkshire,
West Midlands and West Yorkshire) comprised 47.8% of all officers.Figure
4: Annual changes in police officer strength
Source: Police numbers: Social Indicators page
- Commons Library Standard Note, SN/SG/2615
62. The College of Policing has a key role to play
in recruitment to the police. It runs both the Direct Entry (Superintendent)
Programme and the graduate Fast-Track Programme, which are intended
to ensure that the senior ranks of policing are opened up to outside
talent and that talented people are promoted quickly.
The College's Five-Year Strategy includes a commitment to "support
forces to address under-representation of black and minority ethnic
communities within policing, drawing together evidence of what
works in positive action and community-based approaches to recruitment".
63. However, there is much more to be achieved in
this area. As figure 5 shows, the trend over the past 5 years
has not shown much improvement in terms of recruiting women or
BME police officers. Senior officers have consistently pointed
out to us that the reduction in total strength has been an obstacle
to improving minority representation.Figure
5: Police officer strength, 31 March 2014
Source: Home Office Statistical Bulletin, Police
Service Strength, England & Wales
Alex Marshall told us that the College's own 88 staff
were 50% female and 10% BME, although the senior management team
of five people included only one woman and nobody from an ethnic
minority. He added that, through the BME Progression 2018 Programme,
work was being undertaken to examine how the look of senior leadership
in policing could be fundamentally changed:
[This] work is important in that it reaches down
into policing and looks at people who are currently sergeants,
inspectors and chief inspectors, and how we develop them.
We are already seeing many of those people being promoted on merit,
and we think that that looks positive for the future.
Vetting Code of Practice
64. In November 2014, press reports suggested that
some forces were considering relaxing the rules on the recruitment
of police officers with prior criminal convictions in order to
improve diversity, and that the Metropolitan Police had already
done so. The College has confirmed that it is reviewing the national
standards around vetting as the current vetting standards are
creating barriers to people who might be interested in policing.
The latest guidance on this subject, which was issued by the National
Police Improvement Agency in 2011, states that
Police forces should not recruit those with cautions
or convictions, which may call into question the integrity of
the applicant or the Police Service. Each case should be dealt
with on its own individual merits.
65. The Police Federation told us that they were
opposed to relaxing the standards.
Sir Hugh Orde suggested that, if anybody in the evidential chain
had a previous conviction, that would have to be disclosed to
the defence, through the CPS, if that person was involved in a
prosecution and could then be used to undermine their credibility.
66. We raised these concerns with the College, who
said that they were aware of the action by the Metropolitan Police,
but that the College of Policing were not relaxing vetting standards.
Alex Marshall confirmed that the Metropolitan Police had adopted
some flexibility with respect to the vetting standards, but told
us that "the basic rule is that any conviction at all means
you cannot get in.
We do not intend to change it".
67. We welcome the clarification from the College
of Policing that individuals with a criminal conviction cannot
become police officers, and that the rules are not changing. Those
who join the police should be beyond reproach, and standards must
be kept at the highest level to maintain, and improve public confidence.
Fast Track and Direct Entry Programmes
68. Following a public consultation on direct entry
to policing, the Government asked the College of Policing to develop
two new talent management programmes: a Fast Track (Constable
to Inspector) Programme and a Direct Entry (Superintendent) Programme.
These new programmes will enable a wider pool of talent to enter
the police service, as well as rapidly promoting the very best
talent from within the service. It is intended that they will
attract individuals with new perspectives and diverse backgrounds
to support the continuous development of policing.
69. On 17 November, The Guardian reported on the
opening for applications for the second fast track programme.
In the first cohort, of the 1,849 people who applied, 105 went
through to the national assessment centre and only 43 were recommended
for the programme, despite there being vacancies for up to 83
candidates. The programme lead, Chief Superintendent Nicola Dale
"The bar is set high
We are assessing
their potential for superintendent. We are looking for the future
leaders of policing. We don't want people to be coming through
unless they are the right sort of calibre and have the right personality
to do the role".
70. Sir Hugh Orde had previously expressed concern
over the direct entry scheme, and had been quoted as having concerns
over "people on work experience taking high-risk decisions".
He told us 888 people had applied, of whom 46 attended an extended
interview process run by the College. Of these, 13 were recommended
to forces. Sir Hugh told us that they were "certainly very
enthusiastic, keen and able people", and that the College's
role was to make sure they were fully trained and brought up to
speed as quickly as possible.
71. We acknowledge the concerns raised by Sir
Hugh Orde with regard to the direct entry scheme. However, the
figures we have seen shows that only 1.5% of applicants to the
direct entry programme, and 2.3% of applicants to the fast track
programme have been successful. This suggests that there is a
high bar to entry, whereby only the very best talent will be able
to achieve this rapid promotion.
Certificate in Knowledge of Policing
72. The Certificate in Knowledge of Policing was
introduced in April 2012. The Certificate is the first step towards
achieving the Diploma in Policing, the national minimum professional
qualification for a new constable. The Certificate was developed
by the College of Policing, together with Skills for Justice,
the Sector Skills Council. There is no national requirement for
candidates to achieve the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing
before they can apply to become police officers, though some forces
have introduced this requirement locally, including the Metropolitan
Police Service. The cost of obtaining the Certificate currently
varies between £750 and £1000 per candidate.
We have previously recommended that the cost to the candidate
should be reduced to a maximum of £500, to be defrayed across
the first year of service. Means-tested support should be in place
to ensure that the best candidates are not lost because of financial
barriers. Chief Constable
Lynne Owens, QPM, Surrey Police believed that the Certificate
could be a barrier to entry,
whilst Chief Constable Sara Thornton, QPM, Thames Valley Police,
explained that her force were starting a pilot with Bucks New
University where the force would pay bursaries for BME candidates.
Thames Valley police were also pursuing a similar arrangement
with Brookes University.
73. There are also concerns about the certificate,
and how providers deliver training. We have heard of one company
who provide the certificate online, for whom there is a 100% success
rate, because if someone looks as if they are going to fail, it
The College told us that it was evaluating the delivery of the
certificate, including equality impact assessment monitoring,
analysis of different delivering models (classroom learning, online),
and processes for the licensing and approval of providers. The
review will include visits to providers and run from January to
March 2015, with reporting scheduled for the end of March.
74. We remain of the view that cost of obtaining
the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing, which in some police
force areas is a pre-entry requirement, is putting off talented
and diverse recruits. This type of pre-recruitment qualification,
which may be prohibitively expensive for some candidates, may
stifle diversity. Means-tested support, such the bursary arrangements
set up by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, QPM, between Thames Valley
Police and local universities, should be in place to ensure that
the best candidates are not lost because of financial barriers.
75. We are concerned about the standards that
are set by the providers of the Certificate. It cannot be right
that one provider has a 100% success rate for the qualification.
The Certificate has the potential to deliver a new set of standards
for recruits, but to do so it needs to be a trusted qualification.
We welcome the College's decision to commence a full implementation
review of the Certificate, in particular with regard to the approval
76. Once the College's review of the Certificate
in Knowledge of Policing is complete, we recommend that the College
takes a stronger role in overseeing the training and awarding
of this certificate. In its current disjointed state with seemingly
different standards across providers, we cannot ensure that certificates
provided are of the same quality throughout the UK.
82 Chip Chapman, An Independent Review of the Police Disciplinary System in England and Wales,
October 2014 Back
Qq 185-187 Back
Police Officer Recruitment: Eligibility criteria for the role of police constable,
National Policing Improvement Agency Circular NPIA 02/2011 (1
March 2011) Back
Qq 63-66 Back
Qq 179-181 Back
Qq 63-64 Back
Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police,
HC 67-I, Paras 32-33 Back
Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police,
HC 67-I, Paras 98 and 111 Back
Home Affairs Committee, Out of Court Disposals, HC 799, Oral evidence,
6 January 2015, Q 77 Back
Home Affairs Committee, Police Information Notices, HC 901, Oral
evidence, 13 January 2015, Q 1 Back
Qq 148-151 Back
College of Policing written evidence Back