Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics: Police officer uplift statistics

20 July 2022
Last updated:
19 July 2022

Clarity and insight

1.9 The statistical bulletin gives a good overview of the police uplift programme. Most users told us it “does exactly what it says on the tin”: it reports progress towards the target to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers, and generally, it does this well. The statistics are presented clearly, and the commentary is neutral and insightful. It explains trends over time in the both the additional number of officers recruited (through the uplift programme) and the total number of police officers, and the visualisations clearly illustrate progress towards the target.

1.10 The bulletin comments on the diversity of existing officers and new officers, focusing on the ethnicity, sex and age of officers (the protected characteristics for which data quality is high). It presents the proportion at the England and Wales level and compares it with the rate seen in the general population, using census population estimates, which adds insight on whether the police are becoming more like the communities they serve. It also compares the ethnic diversity of different police forces, and for the biggest forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, it shows how this has changed over time.

1.11 The bulletin is transparent about the nature of each figure, for example, by highlighting which officers do and don’t count towards the uplift figure, and the background information provides clear guidance for users on how to interpret the statistics. The bulletin also explains the similarities and differences between the uplift statistics and police workforce statistics. Both sets of statistics are released in a coherent way: the biannual workforce statistics are published on the same day as the quarterly uplift statistics.

1.12 The insight of the bulletin could be enhanced in several ways. While it compares the ethnic diversity of officers across forces, there is no commentary on variation in recruitment among forces. Adding commentary on this aspect of the programme would help users monitor whether individual forces have met their end-of-year target and understand how different forces are approaching uplift recruitment (some forces may recruit everybody upfront in April, whereas other may wait until the end of the financial year to recruits).

1.13 The bulletin contains some basic information about funding arrangements, but this needs to be expanded, for example, by describing how much funding has been allocated and how this allocated. The overview of the uplift programme in the annual police funding for England and Wales statistics might be a useful template for this, and the police funding statistics should be signposted. Home Office told us it will add commentary to future releases of the statistics on how the police officer allocation is based on the funding allocation.

1.14 Users we spoke to identified several gaps in the statistics and data. They told us they would like to see information on a range of other topics, particularly retention, roles/deployment and entry routes of new recruits, and that adding this information would give a more complete picture of the uplift programme. Almost all users said retention was the key data gap. Retention is a key performance indicator of the uplift programme because it reflects whether forces are managing to retain (the diversity of) new officers. For instance, it is helpful for users to know whether new female or ethnic minority recruits are leaving the police at a proportionately higher rate than new male or white recruits. Another important aspect of the programme is the roles to which new recruits are assigned. This information would help users assess what proportion of recruits are working in frontline roles at any given time. Lastly, information on entry routes would add insight on the relative success of the different pathways for joining the police.

1.15 NPCC collects record-level data on the retention and entry routes of new recruits from all forces. The Home Office uplift statistics team told us it does not publish this information because it has concerns about the completeness and accuracy of the data, and, due to the fast turnaround of the statistics (Home Office publishes the statistics within seven days of receiving the data from NPCC), it has no capacity to add further breakdowns to the bulletin. The retention and entry routes data would need an additional layer of quality assurance. We recognise that this is a longer-term development which is not feasible within the current publication cycle. Given these constraints, Home Office should look into publishing additional statistics on the retention and entry routes of new uplift recruits outside the normal regular publication process if necessary, possibly as ad hoc releases. Home Office told us it will raise awareness of the leavers data in the main police workforce statistics, by improving signposting and cross-referencing between the uplift and police workforce statistics in future releases of the uplift statistics.

1.16 Home Office told us that researchers within the department are preparing a paper on the deployment of new recruits, which is expected to add insight on the roles to which new officers are assigned. To help users find related research and analysis about the uplift programme, where relevant, links to research outputs should be added to the statistical bulletin.

1.17 Users also told us they would like to see more granular or complete data on a range of protected characteristics. For instance, they said they would welcome more information on gender, disability and sexual orientation, and further breakdowns for age and ethnicity. We understand that Home Office and NPCC are working to improve the completeness of protected characteristics data (see 1.29). We encourage Home Office to publish more data as soon as it is confident in the quality.

Requirement 1: The value of the statistics should be enhanced in several ways. Home Office should:

  1. add further insight by expanding the commentary and background information on the variation in recruitment among forces, funding arrangements and police officer allocation.
  2. publish additional statistics on the retention and entry routes of new uplift recruits outside the normal regular publication process if necessary, possibly as ad hoc releases.
  3. where relevant, add links to related research and analysis outputs about the uplift programme.
  4. publish more complete and granular data on protected characteristics as soon as it is confident in the data quality.

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