Police Now – Do We Still Need Them? – Did We Ever?

Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 07:07 pm

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Before we start I would like to point out that this most definitely NOT a pop at individual officers who have entered under the Police Now flag. I don’t know any personally, I don’t know enough about the individual officers to comment either way on their abilities, and I genuinely wish them all the best in their chosen career. What I am doing, and have always done, is to question the need for the entry route that is Police Now.

Police Now was originally set up as a graduate entry scheme in 2014/15. Following a ‘trial’ period within the Metropolitan Police, Police Now became an independent charitable social enterprise in April 2016.The scheme was apparently influenced by, and loosely based on, Teach First, the educational initiative that recruits graduates into schools.

Way back in 2016 I remember questioning a) why do we need a graduate entry scheme when we already had Accelerated Promotion schemes that would facilitate a more rapid promotion through the ranks for, mainly, graduates, and b) why do we need a charity to control and administer one of the entry routes into Policing? As I read further I found this ‘aim’ of Police Now;

Police Now has the potential to build on the inherent appeal of policing to attract a cohort of elite, diverse graduates and so prompt a significant shift in graduate perceptions of policing, as well as those of influential adults, employers, and society more widely.

It was the word ‘elite’ that I immediately took exception to, and then I began wondering, “Are Police Now really intending to introduce an ‘elite’ sector within Policing, or is it the arrogant intentions of a group just trying to get established and become accepted?”. I have to say, all these years later, I still don’t know the answer.

However I was inspired, albeit belatedly, to take a closer look at Police Now, and some of their claims.

Looking at their most recent accounts filed (2020/21), if I have unravelled them correctly, in that year they have spent £5,118,310 on Recruitment, £7,116,240 on Training and £6,314,548 on staff costs (including salaries, social security, pension costs of all full-time, temporary and seconded staff)

In the National Audit Office assessment of the Police Uplift Programme they credited Police Now with contributing just over 1,000 recruits in about 2 years. Police Now’s latest submission to the Charities Commission (dated 2021) claims they have contributed 2,000 since 2015. 2,000 in 6 years, just over 300 per annum averaged out. However, last year was a vast improvement upon the average, PN report that during the 2020/21 year they recruited and trained 800 via the National Graduate Leadership Programme and National Dectective Programmes. Just over £7,000,000 in training costs. I’m really glad that I’m not involved in Corporate Accounts because that sounds like a lot of money to me . In the region of £8,750 per recruit PLUS recruitment costs. Does that sound reasonable? I have absolutely no idea. Does anybody know what the cost per recruit is for traditional recruitment and training?

Nearly 2,000 officers over 6 years isn’t, in my opinion, a game-changing number, but then they are ‘elite’ graduates.

Going back to their 20/21 submission to the Charity Commission they had this to say on Diversity “Police Now inspire and recruit high-achieving graduates from socially diverse backgrounds who place strong value on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, increasing policing’s ability to tackle racism, bias, or discrimination wherever it is found. Of those who started the National Graduate Leadership Programme in 2020, 54% identified as female, 19% identified as BAME”. In my most recent post I specifically examined the change in Diversity within the Police Service of England and Wales, and I (again, only my opinion) was of the view that not very much has changed in recent years.

Since Police Now started much has changed. We have seen Direct Entry Inspectors and Superintendents, and Direct Entry Detectives. We are now seeing a much-reformed recruitment process in Policing generally with Graduate Entry and Apprenticeship Entry.

Thinking about the title of this post, do we still need Police Now? In the 20/21 Financial Year Police Now received funding of £10 Million+ from Police Forces and £7 Million from the Home Offices. Both sources of income presumably have their origins in Public Money, our taxes and Council Tax. Is it worthwhile? Do we still need Police Now? For some reason that has completely passed me by. Police Now does not engage in ANY Fundraising activities. Is this an ethical stance because they are, at the end of the day, part of the Police, or is there another reason? Bearing in mind the relatively low number of recruits they have supplied to Policing, did we ever need them? What difference to local communities have those officers actually made?

Finally, referring back to Police Now’s ‘Mission Statement’ they put this first;

Police Now’s mission is to transform communities, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, and increase the public’s confidence in the police service by recruiting, developing and inspiring outstanding and diverse leaders in society and on the policing frontline.  This aligns with the original governing documents of the charity”

Admirable intentions, no I mean it, but how realistic are those ambitions? PN has been operating since 2016, and by their own admissions during that time have contributed approx 2,000 officers over 6 years, into an organisation that at March 2016 consisted of just under 119,000 (not including BTP). Can they really expect to transform communities, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour with such a small percentage of the workforce (just over 1.5%)?


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7 thoughts on “Police Now – Do We Still Need Them? – Did We Ever?”

  1. I apologise if my comment is not on point.
    We are looking for an ex-police traffic officer to hire on a private basis.
    The context is a road trafiic accident which involved my 97 year-old mother.
    We need someone to review the accident, comment on the circumstances and handling by the police.
    This will NOT involve giving testimony in court.
    Thank you, and again apologies for being off-point.

    1. RetiredAndAngry

      No apology necessary, but that person isn’t me. I have never been a traffic officer

  2. I was one of the trainers providing officer safety and level three psu in 2017 to the PoliceNow recruits in west London.
    At that time nineteen Forces had signed up to PoliceNow, one of which was my old Force (A&S).
    During the training delivery I had the opportunity to speak with many of the new recruits, including those joining my Force, some had always planned on joining the Police and had tried several times to do so, and it was only down to PoliceNow that they eventually joined, however, lots of those new recruits had no intention of making a career in the Police and openly stated they would only complete five years as it would look good on their CV.
    Just my experience

  3. Police Now training is decent and much better than what is provided in house (in my force anyway). They have around 100 hours self study to then sit a legal knowledge exam before starting training. The training itself is 11 hour days (or it was 2 years ago). 07:55 sat around a table of 8 recruits and 1 sgt, then interactive lessons until 10:00, 15 min break then work until 1pm, 45 min lunch then work until 7pm followed by further ‘home work’ for the next day.

    There is clearly a difference in the overall quality of the recruits. Not saying standard entry are rubbish and not saying Police Now recruits don’t have their rubbish recruits… but the overall number of quality recruits is higher than that of the standard entry route. Although this might be because we’re recruiting that fast for the standard route we’re getting kids straight out of school now with no life experience and have reduced the score needs to pass…

    I feel there is a place for Police Now, but at the same time forces should learn from them and adapt their training (I don’t agree with the new degree route, but do agree with residential training).

    Police Now has its issues, that can not be denied but it is doing something good, putting good quality and well trained officers into neighbourhoods. It is just a shame that in my force they are not given the time to really get stuck in as the neighbourhood role has almost gone due to demand and now we can’t fill empty spaces, with people being forced into the role. At least these people are keen and want to be in this role.

    1. Thank you for that, you’ve filled in a few gaps for me. Some of your observations might change in light of Graduate and Apprenticeship Entry, time will tell, but I do agree that regardless of route of entry the Force should honour the protected Study Time, not to do so is unfair the recruits

  4. Geoff Beale (@GreyCurmudgeon)

    Neither the Police organisation nor the public have ever needed Police Now. It was all about the self engrandisement of a small clique that classed itself as “elite”.

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