Reflections on our independent evaluation

The London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has recently completed its evaluation of Police Now’s first cohort in the Met, from July 2015 to July 2017.

 

We are very proud of the progress Police Now and our participants have made over the past three years, since our first cohort started on the programme. Many of the successes are noted in the evaluation touching on, amongst other things, innovation in recruitment and training, programme delivery, diversity and perceptions around procedural justice. We’re really grateful for the work done by the MOPAC team – the partnership between Police Now and their Evidence & Insight Team has enabled us to keep developing the programme over the last three years.

 

Early signs of impact

 

The recent analysis by the MOPAC team shows that there was a small increase in the public’s confidence where Police Now participants were working during the programme’s first year (2015 – 2016). It’s particularly notable that MOPAC has confirmed that there was a statistically significant increase in young people’s confidence in the parts of London where Police Now participants were working during that time period – a 15% increase compared to a 4% increase in other communities. The analysis didn’t show any significant differences in reported crime rates between those locations where Police Now participants were working and other similar communities.

Whilst there are some encouraging results it is clearly early days and ongoing analysis is needed to understand how we can sustain the positive changes, how we obtain overall increases in confidence, and whether over time we might see shift in rates of reported crime.

 

High intensity training

 

Policing is a high intensity and tough career and we shouldn’t hide that from anyone, least of all new police recruits. On a slight diversion, I think there is a real argument that we would be well served if the public and those in positions of power better understood just how intense this job can be. Our training is designed to reflect the job’s intensity and we are unapologetic about that. We believe that policing is a role which sometimes requires people to work in challenging and pressurised circumstances, and we role model how to function at that intensity during the Summer Academy.

The evaluation found that 89% of our participants were highly satisfied with the training, 96% would recommend the programme to friends and 100% agreed the Summer Academy was a positive learning environment.

The result which shows that some of our participants don’t feel confident in their policing skills at the end of the Summer Academy are in many ways to be expected and are in line with other entry routes into the police. Certainly, when I was a new probationer constable I don’t think I could have said that I felt confident about my new-found skills when I left training school. Police Now’s participants are encouraged to be reflective and we expect them to critically assess their strengths, weaknesses and areas where they could development. Interestingly similar programmes in other fields suggest that there is a limited link between confidence and performance at the end of initial training (for example in social work see Scourfield et al. 2017).

 

The leadership development programme

 

The evaluation also acknowledges that the 100 Day Impact events are a unique attempt by Police Now to ‘raise the bar’ of police accountability. These assessments don’t require a participant to have started and finished a programme of work within 100 days but to share the impact they are having, whether that is work that remains in progress or is complete – each is valid. Over the last two years we’ve completely changed the guidance and the assessment process with more recent evidence seeming to suggest that this has improved the work being undertaken since we first introduced these events three years ago.

Despite the evaluation indicating that our participants were more receptive to using scientific research than others, we recognise that embedding this on the ground is very difficult and that there is work to be done by Police Now and across policing if we are to achieve this aspiration. One of the things we’ve done in response to this feedback is to deliver day-long ‘Evidence Based Policing’ (EBP) masterclasses to all our participants from our second and third cohorts. Early indicators show that participants are already benefiting from this training and starting to deploy the methods they’ve learnt in their day-to-day work.

 

Our participants

 

Police Now’s aim is to attract a range of people into the police service – whether that be from under-represented ethnic groups or people from different social backgrounds. By doing this we can be more representative of society and increase the diversity of thought within the service. The MOPAC evaluation suggests that we are attracting people to policing who might not have thought about it before – 61% of those asked said that a programme like Police Now makes a policing career more attractive. Furthermore, half of participants would not have considered policing had it not been for the programme and for our second and third Met participants over 20% have been from a Black or Ethnic Minority background.

The evaluation found that Police Now participants compared to other officers at the same stage of service held more favourable views toward serving the public and neighbourhood policing and were more receptive to using scientific research in their day-to-day decision making.

In relation to our participants, we have received hugely positive feedback from line managers and members of the public. The majority have told us of their participants’ enthusiasm, keenness to learn, proactive attitude, innovative thinking, intelligence and commitment. It’s reported by MOPAC that almost all line managers asked felt that their officer integrated well into their team, describing them as ‘popular’ and ‘well-liked’.

 

Driving innovation

 

The evaluation acknowledges that the Police Now programme encompasses a number of significant innovations in the recruitment, training, development and deployment of police officers. I think we would all recognise that delivering innovation within the police service and other parts of the public service can be difficult to achieve but we are determined to keep working with our participants, their colleagues and partner forces to find ways to do things better.

 

Looking forward

 

The MOPAC evaluation focused on our first cohort who have since started and finished the programme (2015-17). Given the partnership we’ve built with the research team, and the continual internal evaluations and feedback we’ve received from participants and forces we’ve had the opportunity since the data was collected to make a whole host of significant improvements to our academy and wider programme.

We look forward to embedding further learning from this evaluation over the coming months and years – we are always seeking to evaluate and continuously improve the programme. Police Now is proud of what our participants, working hard with their colleagues, have achieved to date and we are looking forward to the future where we can continue making a difference to people’s lives.

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