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Interview: ?Some of the best cops I worked with didn?t have a degree?

The police degree system will not move the dial on BAME recruitment according to Nottinghamshire Superintendent Sukesh Verma. He tells Gary Mason why
Published - 29/09/2020 By - Gary Mason

Supt Sukesh Verma has some interesting ideas about recruitment in the uplift. University educated with a degree in politics he highlights the mix of people required to make a police force work really effectively.

His father was a superintendent and when Sukesh left university he joined Notts on an accelerated promotion scheme but decided to opt for one of the most operationally hard-nosed areas working in armed response at a time when the force was really busy and proactive in its use of ARVs.

He says: “I learnt so much about leadership around policing during that time. Ninety per cent of the best cops I worked with didn’t have a degree. They were highly trusted on the ground and policed the streets effectively and well."

Some of them went on later in their careers to get degrees but it highlighted for Supt Verma the importance of getting the right mix of people in the workforce. "There is undoubtedly a place for people within policing who have a background in academia but the mix is important," he says.

This is just as relevant now during the recruitment Uplift at a time when forces are using the opportunity to make a real difference in their BAME representation.

He says Nottinghamshire has been very successful in this respect but it is not through solely targeting graduates.

The force is PEQF ready – in fact was the first to introduce the two-year degree programme for new entrants  - but is still using elements of the old system to attract recruits from different backgrounds, ages and ethnicity.  

“The needle is moving,” he says. In order to do that the force has conducted some detailed analytical work comparing itself to other similar areas around the country which have more than 10 per cent BAME population  - which takes in the major metropolitan areas of Leicester, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Derby and Liverpool.

“People tend to compare apples and pears when it comes to BAME recruitment,” he says.

They might say, for example that a certain force is doing really well because they are 9 per cent representative, but the actual data shows the population of the local area is 35 per cent BAME.

Nottinghamshire are using a ratio matrix to put comparative force’s data into the system and judge whether it is succeeding.Using the census data the force calculated that its BAME population was just over 11 per cent.

Having turned off the recruitment tap completely during the austerity era the force has now really quickly through uplift gone from 4 to 6.5 per cent BAME.

“Compared to the most similar forces our representation is now 57 per cent relative to the whole community we serve,” he says. “So we are just over half way there. A lot of the other forces nationally are around the 30 to 40 per cent mark.”

The force has now completed the first year of its uplift allocation. Last year it recruited 282 new officers  - 107 of which were through uplift. This year it will be taking in another 250 – 150 of which will be through the uplift programme.

Every intake cohort that the force has had since uplift started has had a minimum of 25 per cent BAME. They are also roughly 50/50 male and female.

The force has also conducted some innovative work around LGTB+ recruits and is more confident that the accuracy of its HR data matches more fully the actual workforce. Some of this has been achieved by changing the language  - LGTB+ officers may not want to ‘disclose’ that information in the official sense but there are other ways to get them to be open.

“We have encouraged all of our staff to be proud of who they are and safe and we have a slogan in the force now which is ‘share not disclose’ Supt Verma says.

“It is important because with hate crime prominent, the rise of the right and the challenge of the Black Lives Matter movement we are probably in th

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