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Enhancing Diversity in Policing

Published: October 2018

This report looks at enhancing diversity within police forces across recruitment, retention and progression, and the importance of diversity for a representative police force and community engagement.

About the research

Funded by the Police Transformation Fund and led by the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) lead on diversity and equality, our research was intended to support and inform the development of a new diversity strategy. This included a toolkit for police forces that could be used to help make policing more inclusive, attracting and keeping new officers from all groups in society.

The research did identify evidence of good practice and initiatives but this was inconsistent across forces. Several factors, including poorly developed formal networks supporting protected groups, poor processes in place speaking to the needs of those with protected characteristics and the perceived reluctance of senior leadership buy-in to diversity agendas, were believed to contribute to this lack of consistency.

Key findings

The research made a series of key recommendations to assist with enhancing diversity across police forces, including:

  • Representative mentors: individuals who identify with a protected characteristic should be invited and included in delivering training and/or lectures about diversity across all forces, for all members of staff and officers. 
  • Workforce statistics: more statistics on so-called ‘hidden protected characteristics’ should be collected in order to (i) provide a more transparent illustration of workforce diversity and (ii) lessen the perception of ethnic minority status and gender being at the top of the equality hierarchy. Gathering more workforce statistics related to back-office staff and Police Community Support Officers is also recommended.
  • Entry requirements: the proposed prerequisite of having obtained a university degree should be reconsidered, as this is likely to disproportionately affect underrepresented groups. 
  • Flexible working: part-time and flexible working opportunities and parental leave should be increased to maximise retention and attract applicants.
  • Supervisory discretion: supervisory discretion around deployment and promotion should be reduced to avoid unconscious bias in decision-making. This could include the additional professional development of supervisors to ensure that they are providing support for the career aspirations of all their officers and staff from diverse backgrounds.
  • Accountability: the Workforce Plan should provide a framework for which mayors and police and crime commissioners hold their Chief Constables to account. 
  • Binding recommendations: making recommendations from the College of Policing mandatory is advised in order to ensure a level of consistency across forces. 


The study involved three separate phases of secondary data collection:

1. a landscape review to explore current policies and documents embedded within English and Welsh policing diversity strategies;

2. a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to identify peer-reviewed and grey literature exploring diversity in policing and in England and Wales; and

3. an external review to explore what strategies non-policing bodies implemented to their workforce.

The landscape review and the REA were complimented by a series of focus groups to discuss facilitators and barriers to ensuring a diverse workforce. Three separate participant groups were included: staff support associations, human resources and associates, and strategic leads.

Download the report from NPCC