Editor's message: One of the many challenges that the police service presents to HR is around recruitment and ensuring that the service reflects the gender and racial composition of the communities that it serves. It is well documented that the number of police officers from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background does not reflect the BAME population as a whole and the shortage of female police officers from a BAME background in particular has been highlighted in recent months.
While positive discrimination is often discussed as a method of boosting diversity police employers must be aware of the limits of positive action under the Equality Act 2010, which were highlighted by the tribunal decision of Furlong v Chief Constable of Cheshire Police.
Despite the challenges, the police sector may be able to benefit from certain initiatives to boost recruitment, for example a government pilot to bring officers and staff who left because of caring responsibilities back into investigative roles, the Metropolitan Police scheme to allow new police constable recruits to join the force on a part-time basis, and the Police Now programme for attracting high-achieving graduates.
Initiatives like these are likely to become even more relevant, with the Government's commitment, announced in October 2019, to recruit 20,000 new police officers over three years. It is already nearly 6,000 recruits into its target, according to figures released on 29 October 2020.
The Metropolitan Police service is one of the forces that has already called on retired police officers to return to duty to help in its coronavirus (COVID-19) response, with the first intake having already returned. Further police forces may well follow suite as the situation develops.
Clio Springer, senior employment law editor
HR and legal information, news and guidance relating to employers in the police service.
See Legislation for the up-to-date version of the police regulations including the: