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College's evaluation of Day One assessment shows racial disparity

The College of Policing has published an evaluation of the Day One assessment centre pilot, which had a higher success rate among white candidates than BAME ones.
Published - 26/08/2020 By - Chloe Livadeas

Day One was developed to replace Police SEARCH which had been in place for 18 years. Its planned rollout nationally for 2020 has been delayed due to the pandemic. 

It aimed to give new recruit candidates the experience of the challenges a new constable could face on their first day working in policing.  

White candidates passed at almost twice the rate as black candidates (81.1 per cent compared to 44.3 per cent). 

Four forces took part in the pilot which ran from April 2018 and November 2019: the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley, Surrey and Sussex.

The exercises included early intervention, dispute settlement, stop and search, collaboration, interview, youth engagement and burglary. They were a mixture of role play, written exercises, responding to video clips with multiple choice answers and a collaboration exercise with another candidate. They were designed so that no prior knowledge of the role of a police officer or any policing knowledge is required in order to successfully complete them.

There were no exercises where large differences were found between the percentage score of BAME and white candidates. However, burglary is being reviewed by the college as it had the highest difference in percentage score.

Out of the 18,150 candidates, 30.5 per cent of them were BAME. They had a 47.7 per cent pass rate compared to 73.7 per cent for white candidates.

Overall, 22.1 per cent of the successful candidates were BAME. Up to 31 March 2019, there were 7.3 per cent BAME PCs nationally

In the report, the College said: “Ethnicity is explored in more detail, as this is the key factor (of all protected characteristics reported) which shows lower success rates for underrepresented character groups.”

70.8 per cent of candidates whose first language was not English failed, compared to 28.8 per cent who had English as a first language. Around a third of BAME candidates' first language was not English.

The College said it was worth highlighting that some underrepresented groups, such as women and those with a disability, had a higher success rate. 

The process also favoured younger applicants. A higher proportion of BAME candidates were male and tended to be older.

Between the forces, there are “clear variations in overall success rate”. (Met 65 per cent, Thames Valley 76.3 per cent, Surrey 86.9 per cent and Sussex 97.1 per cent).

Of the participating forces, BAME candidates to join the Met had the lowest pass rate of all four at 47.4 per cent.

Based on research conducted by the college in 2019, it is likely a high proportion of the Met candidate pool do not have Functional Skills Level 2 in English Language, which the college say is the appropriate level for police recruitment.

The college also said it is likely that the difference in success rates is linked to differences in pre-assessment processes and different candidate pools across forces. 

The Met did not apply any sifting process and all applicants attended the assessment.

The evidence suggests the gap in success rates between some BAME groups and the white group will be smaller for forces who carry out preselection or sifting of candidates: Surrey had a BAME candidate pass rate at 100 per cent and Sussex 97.1 per cent. Both went through a pre-selection process. Candidate numbers were low, but the college call the results for the two forces “encouraging”.

“The evidence suggests that implementing an appropriate recruitment strategy, including investment in attraction, sifting and positive action initiatives may be an effective means of tackling subgroup differentials at the Day One Assessment Centre.

“However, forces need to ensure that adverse impact is not being transferred to earlier stages of the recruitment process,” the report said

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