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A quarter of 18-24-year-olds believe a policing career isn’t accessible

Accessibility, uncertainty and diversity cited as the top reasons why young people wouldn’t join the police force.

ULaw has launched a Professional Policing degree to support the Policing Vision 2025

Almost a quarter (24%) of 18-24-year-olds believe a career in the police force is not accessible, despite government initiatives to boost police numbers. What’s more, lack of diversity (8%) and representation (6%) are also cited as some of the main barriers to joining the police, according to new research from The University of Law (ULaw)[1].

In light of recent Government promises to put 20,000 more police officers on the streets, as well as the Policing Vision 2025 setting out that all police officers will need a degree education, ULaw delved into the UK’s attitudes towards a career in the police force. According to the findings, 50% of those aged 18-24 years old have never considered a profession in the police, whilst almost a third (31%) have but didn’t follow the career choice.

Given the key message from the Policing Vision 2025 to attract and retain a workforce of confident professionals[2] and the Prime Minister’s pledge[3] to recruit 20,000 new police officers in the next three years, these statistics present a real challenge to the force.

The main reason young people aren’t willing to pursue a career with the police is because they see it as a dangerous role (53%). However, ULaw also found that for more than one in ten (15%) young people the main reason is that they’re unsure of development opportunities, while 8% feel the force isn’t diverse enough and 6% agree they don’t see their own identity represented in the force.

Improving diversity is also a challenge outlined in the Policing Vision 2025, an issue highlighted by the Police Workforce bulletin[4] which shows only 7% of all officers identify as BME.

Supporting the Policing Vision 2025, ULaw has launched its Professional Policing (BSc) degree[5] which aims to address the issues highlighted by the research. The degree, launched in September last year, allows students to develop a comprehensive knowledge of policing careers before applying to the police force and provides a foundation for further study in areas such as criminology which opens up further career options.

Salome Verrell, Senior Tutor at The University of Law, says: “Our research has highlighted that a significant proportion of young people do not see policing as an accessible career, which presents challenges for the police in recruiting young and talented individuals and reaching the demanding targets that have been set out.

“We’re looking to address some of the most common issues regarding a career in the police with our Professional Policing degree. Our main focus is to provide students with a well-rounded knowledge of how to become a police officer, as well as looking at wider roles in the criminal justice system. In doing so we aim to improve perceptions of what a career with the police can entail, in turn improving diversity in the force, which will be key in increasing policing numbers in the coming years.

“We’re hopeful our new course will encourage people from all backgrounds and demographics to consider policing as a career and remove certain stigmas and barriers to entry highlighted by our research.”

For more information on ULaw’s degree:


Notes to editors:

  1. Survey of 2,001 UK respondents undertaken in November 2019 by TLF