Race Equality Awards 2016 - Recruiting Diverse Talent (public org) Cheshire Constabulary

The Insight Programme

The nature of policing means officers and staff interact with people from diverse backgrounds daily and Cheshire Constabulary recognises the importance of understanding and being sensitive to communities' and individuals' differences. However, although Cheshire's population is increasingly diverse, only 40 of Cheshire Constabulary's police officers, members of staff and volunteers are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Recruitment figures suggested there was work to be done to address BAME under-representation, and the Insight Programme was created to provide a pre-recruitment course for potential staff and officers from BAME backgrounds. It aims to increase the number of successful BAME police applicants over the next 12 months and support a sustainable recruitment strategy.

To identify the target market and any barriers preventing applications, Cheshire Constabulary visited neighbouring forces, spoke to community group leaders, visited places of worship, recreational groups, schools, colleges and universities, and created a BAME staff forum. Local and social media were also used to promote the force's activity to members of the public.

The force then used a number of strategies to promote available roles in Cheshire and neighbouring counties. This included asking key stakeholders to promote the force as a potential employer, including current officers and staff, local councils, housing associations, colleges and universities. Staff support network group events, familiarisation events and employment fairs were used to raise awareness and target promotional material.

The programme is supported by the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, who have been involved in welcoming candidates to the programme. Ranked officers act as mentors and coaches for the candidates, helping them to improve confidence, develop presentation and communication skills and raise awareness of the recruitment process.

Members of the BAME staff support network offer assistance in delivering the programme and coaching and mentoring opportunities, sharing knowledge and experiences and acting as role models.  Members are allocated a buddy at the application stage when current officers and staff make contact. The relationship is informal and provides signposting and support for candidates in the early stages of the process.

Since the programme was introduced in February 2016 four cohorts have taken part with a total of 40 candidates. 13 BAME applicants from the programme have been successful applying to the force. Of Cheshire Constabulary's 680 total applicants in 2016, 55 were BAME (compared to 2015 where 32 out of 564 applicants were BAME). This suggests the programme has had a positive impact on the success rate of BAME applicants.

A candidate talent pool has been created to help HR keep potential applicants informed of vacancies and cater to individuals' needs. Future developments for the programme include sponsorship and bursaries, meeting with business to support delivery and running the programme in partnership with colleges.