Demystifying the career change between joining direct entry schemes for the UK’s police forces


In 2014 the College of Policing launched their Direct Entry Superintendent and Fast Track Inspector schemes signifying a whole new chapter in policing.

For the first time, candidates could join the UK’s police forces at a higher rank.

With a target audience of experienced hires who would bring skills and talents from outside of policing, there was a significant element of demystification needed – in terms of both, the role and life as a police officer.

Accessibility to information was also key. Since this is an entry point for experienced hires, the audience are likely to have other commitments and so, finding smart ways to maintain consistent and helpful communication was crucial.

Throughout the recruitment cycle, candidates were invited to join a schedule of planned group chat sessions where the College of Policing team shared insights on the schemes, the recruitment process and answered candidates’ questions. Once candidates had applied, they were invited to further sessions to brief them ahead of the relevant stages of the recruitment process such as ‘Pre-assessment Centre Briefing’ and ‘Preparing for the Video Interview’. During onboarding, the live chat sessions brought cohorts of candidates together at the induction stage.

In addition to utilising the platform for candidate engagement, College of Policing also run live chat sessions for internal purposes helping to bring assessors involved in the recruitment process together and to share briefings and best practice.

In the past 12 months, the team have run over 100 sessions, with 2400 prospective candidates participating. Questions have ranged from “What advice can you give on preparing for the assessment day?” to “Can I expect career progression?”. Candidate feedback has been highly positive with candidates enjoying the opportunity to speak with the College of Policing during the process. One candidate shared:

“It was a realistic and motivational boost to have a collective discussion in this forum, to see questions others have which you perhaps had not considered. The advice and direction were invaluable in terms of the questions and video presentation and the personal accounts of Direct Entry were similarly thought provoking to move into application preparation.”


We have found the Meet & Engage platform to be extremely beneficial in helping add an additional layer of engagement for those applying to join a number of different programmes. It has enabled us to provide support and guidance to candidates throughout their application or promotion journey. This has ranged from information sessions for those interested in each programme, help and guidance around the application and selection processes through to National Assessment Centres and beyond. 

We have also been able to use the platform to help with engaging forces across the country involved in managing each programme on a local level, as well as those assessing successful candidates as they look to start their policing careers. It’s flexibility, functionality and ease of use provides us with the ability to create informative, engaging and interactive sessions that participants have found extremely beneficial. This has been reflected in our Net Promoter Score across the 90+ sessions we have run over the last year. We are continuing to look at additional ways in which we can use the platform to enhance the candidate journey as well as our engagement with forces across England and Wales.


– Mark Bennett – Project Officer – Fast Track & Direct Entry Superintendents / Inspectors





Engaging with 63 people in just a couple of hours, at the same time as enhancing the candidate experience, was an excellent use of recruitment team time!

Stephanie Bishop

Head of Graduate and Apprentice Recruitment and Programmes