Case Study: The Met Police & SSCL


28 Jan 2019

Case Study: The Met Police & SSCL

The Met Police & SSCL

Detective Constable Pathway


“London is changing. Crime is changing. Increasingly complex cyber-crimes and the need to protect ever-vulnerable people mean that our detectives have to develop new expertise. We need to be more strategic, more innovative with our recruitment than ever. ”

Detective Superintendent Steve Clayman

Lead for the Met’s Trainee Detective programme 


To protect this vibrant, cosmopolitan city the Met need talented officers from all walks of life. Who bring different backgrounds, skills, and interests, but are united by the same motivation: keeping people safe. For the very first time, the Met gave Londoners the chance to become a ‘Trainee Detective Constable’, working within, and supporting, investigative policing immediately after initial training.

They became the first police force in the UK to offer such an opportunity to those who had no policing experience. The Detective Constable Pathway was game-changing. And having never even advertised externally for Detectives before, they truly were breaking new ground.

With the ever-changing face of crime, Detectives are vital. They work on investigations – including serious assaults, domestic violence, fraud, burglary, robbery, and knife crime. Ultimately, it’s all about uncovering the truth. And with limited internal interest, Detectives soon became hard-to-fill roles. But they still needed to recruit 80 of them. And then another 80. Plus they wanted to recruit more females and BAME candidates. This is what led to them completely revamping their attraction and recruitment strategy. 


The work 

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The selection criteria for these new Detective Constables was demanding: career-minded, first jobbers and experienced hires with a degree who could quickly demonstrate logical decision-making skills, attention to detail and complex thinking. So we created an integrated campaign that balanced the expectations of the role with the reality. We also had to change people’s perceptions, and break down the ‘barriers to applying’ that commonly existed within our target groups.

Fear of danger was one such barrier. But Detectives aren’t first responders – they deal with the aftermath of a crime. That’s why the creative nods to handling evidence, or stepping underneath police tape – marking the moment when the crime scene becomes their domain. Another issue we had to tackle was around over-sensationalised TV police dramas, which gave people a skewed idea of what being a Detective means. It was imperative that we provided a well-rounded view of the role.

Our impactful and striking creative put the powerful message of change at its heart. This positioned the Met as pro-active in increasingly challenging times. It called upon those with the right abilities to step up, and begin an incredibly worthwhile, exciting career. We focused on having personal impact, and how choosing to apply would be their ‘first major breakthrough’.

A key challenge we had to overcome was making sure the campaign didn’t diminish the work of Police Constables. There’s a misconception that Detective Constables are more senior to uniformed officers – which just isn’t the case. It meant being sensitive to how people already in the Met would react to an initiative like this one where people had a direct line into a specific role.

As for our attraction strategy, we worked in close partnership with the Met to exploit news and media channels. The specific synergies of our multi-media campaign meant that we could challenge

perceptions, create maximum brand awareness and target both passive and active job seekers within the target groups.

The creative work effectively re-framed the offer to make it more appealing to a female audience. What’s more, using a mixture of online job boards, print and programmatic channels, we were able to put specific targeting in place to reach BAME candidates. This encompassed:

*Nano Interactive programmatic advertising that uses Job search key words to serve up relevant MPUs


*A package which included universities with the highest rate of BAME students

*Evening Standard and Metro print advertising

*, and for generic targeting

All of the media led to a simple landing page where they could find out more and register their interest.



The response was overwhelming. To continue in our quest to break down barriers and manage expectations, we invited all female and BAME candidates who had registered their interest to ‘Meet the Met’ events, where they enjoyed meeting Detectives from across various areas.

There were also popular ‘Meet and Engage’ events online, where candidates could ask serving Detectives questions about the role. Next, we designed an assessment centre to ensure that only the right people would progress, regardless of background. An ‘in tray’ exercise tested their ability to prioritise based on the information provided. A ‘stakeholder briefing’ allowed the candidates to present their findings to an Inspector. Finally, there was an interview where key competencies would be assessed.

The Met recruited all 160 in one go, five months earlier than we needed to. 

Key Stats:

*The media was live for 6 weeks and in this time we had 4,500 registrations of interest – 3,354 of these passed the eligibility and 2,700 completed applications

*50% of applications were from female candidates

*33% were from BAME

*84% of candidates passed initial sift and online test

*The pass rate for the first week of search day 1 assessments was 95% because of the calibre of candidates.

Since we have run this campaign the Met have won an RMA award and been shortlisted for both the PPMA’s and RAD awards.

“This needed to be more than an innovative attraction strategy. It was about quickly creating awareness and changing the perceptions of those who wouldn’t have considered a career in policing. As a strong media role model and creative attraction partner, Penna helped us smash all our targets and expectations.”

Detective Superintendent Steve Clayman