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Action to address findings of first employee-led assessment of workplace culture

25 Feb 2021

Analysis of a survey of more than 34,000 police officers and staff found evidence of inclusive teams and endorsement of efforts to tackle bias, as well as a need to address concerns about career progression and derogatory comments.

The National Inclusion Survey was conducted in November 2019, providing the first national employee-led assessment of workplace culture in policing in England and Wales.

The survey covered all forces in England and Wales and occurred at the same time as the National Wellbeing Survey. The results have since been analysed by the Policing Research Unit at Durham University.

The survey indicated that when individuals feel able to be their ‘true’ selves without suffering adverse consequences, and when they feel that they are genuinely involved in decision-making in their work teams, they have higher job satisfaction, professional commitment, and improved wellbeing.

Key findings – the positives:

Positive support for force efforts to be inclusive and overcome bias - Respondents considered their force’s approach to overcoming bias and prejudice, and overall approach to inclusion, to be positive.

Engaged and supportive supervisors - The extent to which respondents viewed their direct supervisors as open, non-judgemental, supportive, and interested in what they have to say was high on average.

Inclusive teams - Average scores were high for how well teams integrate differences, and were moderately high for inclusive team decision-making.

Key findings – the negatives:

Concerns about fairness in progression

  • 21 per cent of Black, Asian and Mixed ethnicity respondents were concerned that their career promotion opportunities are negatively affected by their ethnicity.
  • 38 per cent of police officers who identified as having a disability felt that this had a negative effect on their career opportunities.
  • 21 per cent of Muslim police officers said the same of their religion.
  • 17 per cent of male police officers reported that their career promotion opportunities are negatively affected because of their gender compared with nine % of female police officers.

Too many people experience derogatory comments in the workplace about their identity – these comments were experienced by:

  • 28 per cent of female police officers, linked to their gender
  • 27 per cent of Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity respondents about their race or ethnicity
  • 36 per cent of Muslim respondents about their religion
  • 41 per cent of disabled people;
  • 26 per cent of gay or lesbian or bisexual people about their sexuality

Too many people are experiencing incivility at work – 29 per cent of police officers and 25 per cent of police staff said they have been regularly treated in a condescending manner, interrupted, put down or not listened to at work. Those who have a disability, are Black, Asian, or Mixed ethnicity or are LGBT+ reported this behaviour at higher rate than the average.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said:

“I am pleased that so many officers and staff completed the survey. Police chiefs are committed to building on the positives and accelerating efforts to build fully inclusive organisations where officers and staff feel respected, valued, and are treated equally.  This will benefit everyone working in policing and the public we serve.

 “Our aim is zero-tolerance for derogatory and demeaning behaviour that staff told us causes them distress, anxiety or humiliation.  Some may question the necessity for focusing on these aspects of our workplace culture and dismiss derogatory comments and behaviour as harmless ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’. However, no matter the intention, in reality it damages those subject to it, as well as negatively affecting organisational performance.

“We will do more to ensure everyone in policing understands the opportunities for personal and career development and the support available to them.  At the same time, we will give currently under-represented groups tailored support.

“This matters because it is proven that diverse, inclusive teams make better decisions and innovate more – in policing this means better service and protection of the public.  It also means better wellbeing and job satisfaction for everyone working in policing.”   

Action to address the findings:

Maximise use of inclusivity-building tactics that work

Forces will continue their implementation of the 2018-2025 NPCC Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy and Workforce Representation Toolkit, taking stock of the findings of the 2019 survey and peer reviews undertaken in 2020.  This strategy and supporting toolkit has a number of evidence-based measures for building more inclusive organisations.

Equipping leaders with the skills and knowledge to set an example and build inclusive teams 

A number of forces will pilot a leadership learning and development programme for frontline policing supervisors led by Durham University Policing Research Unit and evaluated by research partners.

Over 18 months, staff in 25 forces will be trained and supported to facilitate workshops focused on:

  • the case for inclusivity;
  • leaders’ roles in building it;
  • how to reduce unacceptable incivility and derogatory behaviour in their teams;
  • inclusive team decision-making.

The College of Policing is also producing new evidence-based guidance and training for supervisors to support them in handling complaints and conduct requiring improvement.

Sharing opportunities for personal and career development and available support

Police forces will offer a range of support for officers and staff.  The College of Policing also offers tools, frameworks and guidance to help individuals and managers with career development.

Supporting underrepresented groups achieve their career ambitions and build diversity at all levels in policing

The College of Policing provides a number of national development programmes for officers and staff from groups currently underrepresented in policing, including the Aspire course, Senior Leaders Development Centre and Senior Leaders Career Pathway workshops. The programmes, aimed at those in, or aspiring to, senior leadership positions, aim to improve leadership insights, build confidence and support officers’ career development while improving diversity across all levels of policing. The College is also working on new programmes to support those at earlier stages of their careers.

Additionally the College of Policing is conducting a national consultation on Progression and Promotion including the National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) A key aspect of the consultation is focused on identifying and removing disproportionality in progression and promotion.

Taking advantage of the opportunity of bringing in 20,000 new officers to attract and retain diverse talent

The Police Uplift Programme is working to encourage more people to consider policing as a career, to ensure that those with the right skills and attributes join and that existing officers and staff are retained.  In 2021 the programme will be evaluating positive action programmes that aim to support attraction, recruitment and retention of under-represented groups and introducing end-to-end recruitment standards to remove adverse impact on under-represented groups.  

Urgently addressing the concerns of Black people

Police chiefs have heard the particular concerns of Black people working in or interacting with policing.  For example, Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched than White people and continue to experience disproportionate negative outcomes across the criminal justice system.  Black people and other people of colour within policing have concerns about inclusivity and research shows they are treated differently to white colleagues in misconduct procedures. 

A plan of action on inclusion and race is being drawn up to address these negative disparities. This action will support and complement the ongoing efforts to ensure policing is inclusive and fair to all.

Keep surveying to track progress  

The survey will be repeated in the future at an appropriate time to assess progress.

College of Policing Lead for Inclusion and Diversity, Fiona Eldridge said:

“As the professional body for the service, we need to take a leading role in securing rapid and tangible progress in improving inclusion and diversity within policing. The College will work collaboratively with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to influence change in internal culture. We will do this through setting standards, knowledge sharing and professional development.

“The new guidelines for supervisors are a good example as supervisors have a critical role to play in influencing culture and supporting the development of those that they manage. We will support forces through guidance and peer support to implement change. Ultimately changing and developing a more positive, inclusive internal culture is the responsibility of each force.”


Notes to editors:

  • The survey will be repeated to assess progress.
  • The Disproportionality in Police Complaint and Misconduct Cases for BAME Police Officers & Staff research can be found here