College of Policing's online assessments found to reduce racial disparity among candidates

The online assessment process introduced by the College of Policing to support police forces in recruiting officers during the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the level of racial disparity among candidates, an independent review has found.

Nov 18, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Jo Noakes

Earlier this year it emerged that during a four-force pilot of the Day One assessment centre, the system developed to replace Police SEARCH, white candidates passed at almost twice the rate of black candidates.

Analysis of results of the new online system found that a higher percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates were successful compared with previous assessment processes.

The percentage of white, female and male candidates who have been successful was found to be very similar to the success rates of these groups in previous assessment processes.

However, the college has conceded that there remains a gap between the performance of white and BAME candidates and that it intends to conduct further analysis to monitor and understand this disparity.

The online assessment process was designed and delivered at pace to help police forces in England and Wales assess the required competencies while Covid-19 restrictions remained in place.

Online assessments are now being delivered to all 43 Home Office forces in England and Wales, with more than 23,000 candidates having been invited to undertake the assessment and more than 13,000 candidates already receiving their results.

The evaluation and independent peer review of the process looked at the assessment content, materials and language, which focused on fair selection and inclusion. It was found to be fit for purpose as an assessment process.

The evaluation and review also made a number of recommendations as to further improvements to the online assessment process and those changes will be implemented by the college over the coming weeks.

To ensure consistency and fairness to all candidates in the light of the ongoing national Covid-19 restrictions, the online assessment process is expected to remain in place until at least June 2021, with a review on time-frames for delivery of any different process at the end of March 2021.

The college is working with the Police Uplift Programme and forces on the other stages of the whole recruitment process to ensure that locally-managed selection processes are fair, effective and support diverse recruitment.

Jo Noakes, director of Workforce Development at the College of Policing, said: “While it is encouraging that the evaluation and independent review of the online assessment process found it is effective, and the diversity outcomes are improved compared with previous processes, we are not complacent and know that more needs to be done across policing to develop a diverse workforce which truly represents the communities we serve.

“We are working closely with colleagues in the Police Uplift Programme to carefully monitor the results of the assessment process and we continue to make further improvements with the aim of reducing the disparity in outcomes from under-represented groups.”

Preparations are underway for the first force-run online assessments, which will give forces greater control over the frequency and capacity of their assessment processes.

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