HMICS Thematic Inspection of Police Scotland Training and Development - Phase 2

20 October 2021

HMICS committed to publishing Phase 2 of its Thematic Inspection on Police Scotland Training and Development in its Scrutiny Plan with the Terms of Reference being published in March 2021.

By the time of the publication of the Phase 1 report in September 2020[1] (Phase 1 Report), it was clear that issues of equality, diversity and inclusion were more important than ever. At that time, HMICS stated its intention to carry out a further inspection focusing specifically on Police Scotland’s recruitment, retention, development and promotion of people from under-represented groups.

This inspection focuses on the internal aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion, given the importance of a police service that is reflective of the communities it serves in order to maintain public trust and confidence. HMICS has looked at all protected characteristics, but has compared and contrasted the progress made in relation to two, as follows:

  • Sex – the representation of women in policing
  • Race – the representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in policing

In June 2021, HMICS published a report on Police Scotland’s response to hate crime, which again pointed out gaps in diversity training, and recommended that Police Scotland review its approach to dealing with hate crime experienced by its own police officers and staff.

This Phase 2 report describes the significant progress Police Scotland has made since the Phase 1 report was published in September 2020. This has been delivered in the challenging context of the coronavirus pandemic. The inspection found evidence of genuine commitment at the most senior levels of Police Scotland to ensure that the service is welcoming and inclusive.

Where the evidence is less clear is the extent to which the strong message from the top is being translated into action that has a positive impact on the day-to-day experience of police officers and staff from under-represented groups working in Police Scotland. The limitations of data available to help the service understand the impact of its activities, identify trends and make improvements, was a recurring theme in this inspection.

As well as highlighting positive progress, our report also raises areas for improvement in relation to the force’s approach to the recruitment, retention, development and promotion of people from under-represented groups.




Police Scotland should develop timely, meaningful equality, diversity and inclusion data and the capability to analyse the data to identify and understand trends, and to inform strategy and priorities in relation to recruitment, retention, development and promotion of people from under-represented groups.


Police Scotland should assert a strong and bold position in its external and internal communications on equality and diversity matters, that it is an anti-discriminatory and inclusive organisation.


Police Scotland should consider developing a retention strategy, recognising that retention is equally as important as recruitment, and explaining the role everyone in the organisation has in creating an environment that is truly welcoming and inclusive.


Police Scotland should improve the information available to potential applicants, clarify the standards required to pass the selection process, and introduce a system of keeping applicants informed about the progress of their application.


Police Scotland should consider introducing a process for applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, to provide feedback on the recruitment process, in order to learn and improve.


Police Scotland should devise a programme of refresher training in equality, diversity and inclusion for all members of the organisation. Priority should be given to tutor constables and first-line managers, given their vital role in supporting people joining the organisation and retention of staff.


Police Scotland should review the resource levels, location, and remit of the Positive Action Team to maximise the benefit of dedicating resource to engaging with under-represented communities, and proactively attracting and supporting applications from people from all under-represented groups.


Police Scotland should identify ways to improve the understanding of the public and the understanding of its own workforce about the role and purpose of the Positive Action Team.


Police Scotland should accelerate its ongoing efforts to introduce an electronic recruitment system including implementing the diversity insights module at the earliest point of delivery.


Police Scotland should consider improving its understanding of the specific needs of each diversity staff association and reviewing the level of support provided accordingly.

Publication type: 
Inspection report