It’s no secret that the police, frequently pilloried by the media, has recruitment problems, but Lancashire Constabulary’s recruitment and selection manager, Thelma Aye insists negative media coverage is not the reason for the force’s current recruitment crisis.
Aye believes the blame should be placed firmly at the door of the police force’s recruitment policies. “We are simply not marketing the job properly,” she says.
It is this approach, driven by a combination of targeted marketing techniques, honesty throughout the recruiting process and an underlying change of culture, which has seen an increase in the number of ethnic minority officers.
Two years ago, the constabulary employed only 39 ethnic minority officers but needed 123 to proportionally represent the local population. In the last 18 months the constabulary has increased that number to 47. Yet to meet Home Office targets it will need to sustain this level of recruitment over the next nine years.
Aye joined two years ago with a brief to bring the police force in line with government regulations and improve recruitment and retention of ethnic minority staff. The first thing she did was to appoint a minority ethnic community liaison officer, Mebs Ahmed, to work with students and the Lancashire community to promote her cause.
In order to get its new message across, the constabulary launched a radio advertising and billboard campaign. A series of other changes have encouraged racial diversity. For instance the introduction of halal food to the canteen – a simple and cost-effective measure – has reaped unforeseen advantages when the Indian army decided to use the constabulary’s Hutton training centre to train its recruits.
The constabulary has also introduced a multi-religion prayer room to accommodate different faiths and provides cut price aids such as Islamic prayer mats. Ethnic recruits are allowed to defer entry into the force until another ethnic training partner is found for them.
Once ethnic recruits are on board they are given training and advice to ensure they have the opportunity to progress in their police careers. Training is structured through a competency-based performance and development appraisal system with a mentoring system providing support for ethnic recruits. More recently a working group has also been set up to look at recruitment, retention and progression of ethnic minority officers.
The scheme has boosted the HR department’s profile with Lancashire being used as a best practice example to be followed by other forces across the country
Company fact file
Team Lancashire Constabulary Recruitment and Selection Department
Team leader Thelma Aye
Number in HR team 15
Number of employees responsible for 5,000
Main achievements Increased intake of minority ethnic police officers
Priorities for next 12 months To extend the policy to cover other minority areas such as gays and lesbians
Judge’s Comment “The team has grown over time and work extremely well together. It can confidently say it has succeeded where other forces have failed, applying classic marketing techniques to the recruitment market. There is a lesson here for other HR functions to learn from”