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First UK force achieves national equality and diversity standard

Avon and Somerset completes one year assessment process backed up by 600 pieces of supporting evidence
Published - 16/07/2020 By - Gary Mason

Avon and Somerset Police have become the first force in the UK to have achieved accreditation for the National Equality Standard (NES).

NES was developed for businesses and sets equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) criteria against which companies and other organisations are independently assessed.

It is supported by the Home Office and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was involved in its development and launch

The process took over a year for the force to complete.

Nearly 600 pieces of supporting evidence were supplied for review, with over 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 focus groups held in July 2019. They were held across the Force area, with attendance of around 10 people at each. Each session covered a mix of officers and staff from different ranks and grades, who came from a variety of backgrounds, including under-represented 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 from the senior leadership team.

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% of competencies are required to be met.

When first assessed in 2019, the force was rated green in 22 of the 35 competencies (63% of competencies had been met), just three short of the overall requirement. In response to this, there was a review and further work completed & 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 National Equality Standard 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.

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.

Although Avon and Somerset are the first police force to be accredited with the NES, the standards body has also worked with the Met Police on other diversity and inclusion support.

Avon and Somerset Police Assistant Chief Constable, Steve Cullen, said: “It is a great honour for us to be the first police force in the country to achieve the National Equality Standard. While ‘inclusive’ is one of our four values, I want it to be more than just a word on a page. 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.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, said: “The National Equality Standard 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 communiti

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