Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 07:07 pmReading 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%)?