Stories of our impact

Breaking down barriers

Attracting a more diverse workforce is not just at the top of the agenda for UK businesses. It's also a key challenge for public sector organisations, such as police services, who are facing challenges in attracting a more varied range of applicants. Deloitte has carried out extensive research into police officer recruitment across the UK. Learn about the findings below and, as well as how we’re helping the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to improve its recruitment process and attract applicants from different backgrounds.

A thorough look into recruitment

During the past year, we’ve undertaken significant research to understand the key issues affecting police officer recruitment in the UK. The work, which culminated in the report Understanding barriers to police officer recruitment, included data analysis from previous recruitment campaigns; regionally representative polling on policing as a career choice; interviews with focus groups, including members from the wider public and serving police officers; stakeholder consultations with schools, politicians, public bodies and community representatives; and engagement with serving officers to better understand their experience on the job.

We also contacted applicants who had withdrawn from the recruitment process before reaching the assessment stage to understand why they withdrew. They invariably told us the process was too long or that they had struggled with attending an initial selection test in person. This is partly because some of them would not have told their family or friends they were applying for a role with the police.

Helping Northern Ireland’s police services

Policing in Northern Ireland is a sensitive and symbolic issue given the recent history of conflict, the difficult role and relationship policing had within that period, and the evolution of policing since the Good Friday Agreement – a milestone in the country’s peace process during the 1990s. This has led to an ongoing challenge for the PSNI to attract more people from a Catholic community background.

We worked closely with the PSNI’s leadership on the findings of our research to ensure they fully understood the barriers to recruitment, which included factors both within their influence and societal issues requiring wider stakeholder input. Our team also provided a range of recommendations to help improve the situation.

Our research has reinforced the importance of the PSNI’s stakeholder engagement, the need to continue to focus on diversity and inclusion within the working environment, and has led to substantive changes in the way it recruits officers. The benefit is already being felt: the next recruitment process in the autumn will be shorter, the initial selection test element will be online, and communication with applicants will be more dynamic.

We continue to support the PSNI, helping it to implement the new procedures as well as monitoring the impact on the diversity of applicants.