Police Scotland reviews application criteria to meet government target

Written by Alan Robertson on 7 December 2015 in News

Tattoos, fitness tests and driving license requirement consider as part of police force review of recruitment

Scotland’s single police force is reviewing its policy on tattoos as well as fitness tests as it struggles to meet a government target to 1,000 extra officers.  

Police Scotland is facing a 30 per cent shortfall in numbers coming through its recruitment process with “insufficient applications” putting pressure on various parts of the organisation.

In October, Police Scotland dropped a requirement to have a driving license after it was adjudged to be a barrier to people applying to become a police officer.


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The single service has also been reviewing its regulations on fitness tests as well as tattoos, while a simpler application form has been introduced. 

The Scottish Government has come under pressure to review a longstanding commitment to maintain police officer numbers above 17,234.

However, there are “currently no indications that the requirement to maintain this will be removed”, according to Police Scotland’s head of resource management Peter Blair.

A review of recruitment processes has now identified a “number of potential barriers to application... that appeared to be contradictory to the need to maintain applications”.

“These included the requirement for driving licences, the residential element of police training, fitness testing, the standard entrance test and the tattoo policy,” said Blair in a submission to the Scottish Police Authority's (SPA) human resources and remuneration committee.

“To date many of these elements of the process have been reconsidered and revised processes implemented. Work continues in this area to address the remaining elements.”

Concerns over being relocated across Scotland remains the “biggest issue” for potential applicants, adds Blair. Ninety-five per cent of applicants are offered a posting within one of their top three preferred police divisions.  

Blair, who will appear before the Authority tomorrow, said: “Traditionally, recruitment to police forces in Scotland has not been problematic with supply considerably outweighing demand across the majority of the country.

“As a result the selection process was quite challenging for individuals based on the ethos that motivated candidates would make the required effort.

“The current projected applications has now led us to review, test and remodel some aspects of the process (without reducing the quality of the candidate who successfully negotiate the whole process).”

Police Scotland is currently considering options to develop an e-recruitment system that could cost up to £400,000.

“In terms of the recruitment software, Police Scotland is one of the few public sector organisations without an integrated end-to-end e-recruitment solution,” said Blair.

“The disparate and outdated IT systems currently in use do not provide an efficient platform to effectively manage the high volume of recruitment activity across the organisation and adversely impacts on accessibility for applicants.

“The current systems lack even the most basic automated interface or communication systems with applicants.

“This current system also fails to provide sufficient management data to meet current statutory requirements and as such requires regular manual interventions. This unnecessary additional work puts further pressure on the recruitment function.”



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