In among the urgent and broad questions about diversity for the Police, we have been concentrating with them on one particular aspect: how to diversify successfully their Direct Entry Scheme for Superintendants?
Their experience to date has been that they have not been attracting a diverse enough group of applicants and they have begin to question that, with those they have attracted, is the process of application squeezing out the very difference they want to achieve?
We have worked with the National College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs' Council’s lead on Workforce (who Chairs the Direct Entry Scheme), the Met and a number of other interested parties to analyse what is happening in the process and how it can achieve its aim of greater diversity in the senior ranks of the Police.
Again, the interesting questions are about what is the real link between diversity and good policing. Often this is assumed to be a demographic one. And to some extent it is. If you are Victor Olisa the Borough Commander of Haringey you will want Police Officers who look like and understand the community of Haringey. However the example we also use is of the success of the relationship between the LGBT community ion Brighton and the local Police. It was developed by an officer who isn’t (last time we asked!) gay. He made a policing decision. He saw crimes going unreported and, when they were, he saw witnesses disrespectfully treated. So he realised that building trust was the answer to a policing problem in the city. Diversity – recognising, valuing and deploying difference – was the answer to a question of crime.
The desire to diversify the senior ranks of the police flows from the recognition that teams of greater diversity inn the leadership will lead to greater innovation, better problem solving, more flexible answers to police challenges. For the Police it also poses great challenges. Working with people who are different from you in situations where incredibly fast decisions are needed is arguably more difficult to start with than working with those who are very similar. Also difference can be a challenge to the kind of group discipline policing requires. The Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force - have met these issues head on and overcome them. We are working with the Police to achieve a similar level of success with diversity.