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Avon and Somerset Police leads the way to meet National Equality Standard

Marked police car

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

The national standard is a clear set of equality, diversity and inclusion criteria against which companies are independently assessed. A detailed and thorough process, it took just over a year to complete, and saw the assessment of seven key areas within the organisation:

  • Core components
  • Talent
  • Business
  • People
  • Leadership
  • Relationships
  • Review and measurement

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 National Equality Standard 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.

National Equality Standard logo

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.”

Nearly 600 pieces of supporting evidence were supplied for review, with over 50 in-depth conversations & forums with staff, senior leaders and other internal stakeholders, combined with a cultural value assessment survey.

A key part of the assessment were that a number of focus groups that were held in July 2019. They were held across the Force area, with good attendance of around 10 people at each. Each session covered a good mix of officers and staff from different ranks and grades, who came from a variety of backgrounds, including underrepresented 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 of our senior leadership team.

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.

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 communities we serve. I am so pleased that Avon and Somerset Police continue to make progress, but there is still work to be done and I look forward to seeing how they maintain this standard and continue to make further improvements.”

Arun Batra, CEO National Equality Standard, said: “I am impressed by the significant effort that the Force has put into its equality, diversity and inclusion activities, and heartened to see that these efforts are starting to spur real change in the organisation. NES certification is a great achievement for Avon and Somerset Police and sets a strong example for Forces across the country”.