UWE academic helps Avon and Somerset Police with Recruitment Review

Issue date: 01 October 2013

The question of what makes a good Police Officer is far too important to be left to the Police alone. That's why Avon and Somerset Constabulary has commissioned an independent review of the recruitment process.

Dr Marie-Annick Gournet has been commissioned by the Avon and Somerset force to review its recruitment process, from the moment that people first consider the possibility of joining the police, right the way through to the conclusion of their training. Her task is to make recommendations that will help ensure that the constabulary is more broadly representative of the communities it serves.

Chief Constable Nick Gargan said, “People are used to the Police working very hard to improve representation of people from black and minority ethnic communities within its ranks but this is about much more than simply that. I want the Constabulary to contain greater numbers of people from a broader range of social, economic and educational backgrounds and to make Avon and Somerset Police more welcoming to people with different perspectives and different skill sets.”

Dr Gournet will also be asked to find ways of giving a community a greater say over which people are actually selected to join the Police – and she will be asked to consider the possibility of including community members in selection panels.

Chief Constable Gargan said, “Of course it is right that professional Police Officers should have a significant say in determining the standards of the profession and through them who is allowed to join. But at the moment, the community plays only a tiny role in these decisions and I have asked Dr Gournet to explore ways in which that role could be expanded, again with the aim of bridging any divide between policing and the communities it serves.”

Dr Gournet, who leads the Learning for All Hub at the University of the West of England, said, “I am delighted to be chosen to conduct this important piece of work. I am passionate about increasing participation and progression for all. The Constabulary has appointed me as an independent reviewer, and the findings and recommendations will be genuinely independent as they will be my own. I will be supported by an advisory panel composed of people with relevant expertise and experience. I'm also keen to hear from any member of the public, previous applicant or current member of staff who may want to share their experience or ideas with me. They can do so by emailing me at magreview@uwe.ac.uk.”

The review will also consider whether current selection procedures are the best way of ensuring that the most able and suitable candidates are the ones that get selected. Chief Constable Gargan added, “When you have such a competitive process where 96% of candidates fail, it's easy to fall into the trap of designing processes that favour the most determined, committed and persistent. Whilst there's nothing wrong with those qualities, what we really want are the most able and suitable people who are best able to relate to the communities they serve and to provide excellent policing. It may be that there is nothing we can do to improve but the review will test the theory that we might be able to.”

The review will begin on 1st October and Dr Gournet has been asked to submit an initial report by 31st December 2013.

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