Avon and Somerset leads the way in equality, diversity and inclusion
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has set a “strong example for forces across the country” by becoming the first in the UK to achieve accreditation for the National Equality Standard (NES).
The national standard is a clear set of equality, diversity and inclusion criteria against which companies are independently assessed.
Chief Constable Steve Cullen said it was a “great honour” to be the first police force in the country to achieve the NES.
“While ‘inclusive’ is one of our four values, I want it to be more than just a word on a page,” he said “This independent assessment helps us to see how inclusive we are by reviewing the inner workings of our organisation against national standards. It’s great that we have achieved the benchmark, with the report praising the work we are doing, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. We will continue to work hard to make progress ahead of further assessments over the coming years.”
Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens said the NES acknowledges the “hard work to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion across the organisation”.
She said it was a “detailed and thorough process” that took just over a year to complete, and saw the assessment of seven key areas within the organisation:
- Core components;
- Relationships; and
- Review and measurement
The assessment report ranks 35 different competencies against policies and practices relating to equality, diversity and inclusion, benchmarked against the NES client average and mapped against a maturity model using a traffic light system.
Meeting the NES benchmark requires at least 25 of the competencies to be rated green, with at least three greens ratings in each of the areas – 70 per cent of competencies are required to be met.
When first assessed in 2019, the force was rated green in 22 of the 35 competencies (63 per cent being met), just three short of the overall requirement.
In response to this, Avon and Somerset Constabulary said there was a review and further work completed and evidenced in a number of areas with the aim of meeting the required standard.
The reassessment took place earlier this year and evidence provided determined that progress had been made in three of the required competencies, meeting the NES benchmark requirement of 25 competencies rated as green.
The final report identified a number of key strengths, which included mental health, community relationships and leadership commitment.
Nearly 600 pieces of supporting evidence were supplied for review, with more than 50 in-depth conversations and forums with staff, senior leaders and other internal stakeholders, combined with a cultural value assessment survey.
A key part of the assessment were that a number of focus groups that were held in July 2019. They were held across the force area, and each session covered a good mix of officers and staff from different ranks and grades, who came from a variety of backgrounds, including underrepresented groups and staff networks. From these groups, a number of people were selected at random for more detailed one-to-one interviews, which included several of the senior leadership team.
The NES accreditation requires a full assessment every three years, with annual checks in between to help ensure that the force continues to make progress with its plans to improve equality, diversity and inclusion.
Ms Mountstevens said: “The NES acknowledges the hard work taking place to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion across the organisation. As one of the most rigorous assessments, it is an honour to be recognised as the first police force to achieve this accreditation.
“It is clear that the police understand the urgency and criticality of having a diverse workforce who represent the communities we serve. I am so pleased that Avon and Somerset Constabulary continues to make progress, but there is still work to be done and I look forward to seeing how they maintain this standard and continue to make further improvements.”
Arun Batra, chief executive officer of NES, said: “I am impressed by the significant effort that the force has put into its equality, diversity and inclusion activities, and heartened to see that these efforts are starting to spur real change in the organisation. NES certification is a great achievement for Avon and Somerset Constabulary and sets a strong example for forces across the country”.