The Step Programme has been developed by West Mercia Police to support the employment of people with a protected characteristic, such as those who are female, dyslexic, LGBTQ+ or from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, and encouraging these under-represented groups into student police officer roles, promotion and specialisms.
Workplace diversity generates higher job attraction: 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers. Staff with different backgrounds and experiences bring a variety of perspectives on matters, and provide a wider range of solutions to problems. Diversity is particularly important within law enforcement organisations, because policing is most successful when it represents its communities, encouraging greater community support and helping forces understand the needs of the public.
The Step Programme has three elements:
- Step In - the support of student police officer applicants to increase representation of female and LGBTQ+ candidates, and those affected by learning difficulties and disabilities such as autism and dyslexia. Our Positive Action programme already supports police officer candidates from black and minority ethnic backgrounds
- Step Up - encouraging current officers and staff with a protected characteristic to seek promotion
- Step Across – inspiring current officers and staff to progress to specialist roles where they are traditionally under-represented.
The programme provides practical support to candidates, such as Discovery sessions to walk them through the application processes, 1-2-1 buddying, webinars, support from members of our staff associations and networks and workshops. These activities are currently delivered online or over the telephone due to COVID-19 regulations. Alongside this, work is ongoing to review and adapt selection processes to remove barriers and biases, levelling the playing field for under-represented candidates, and regularly monitoring our application pipeline.
West Mercia Police is currently recruiting new police officers via the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship route, and under-represented candidates will be offered support from the Step Programme or Positive Action.