Avon & Somerset Case Study: SIFT – Streamlining Recruitment for Police Constables 

Client Profile

Industry sector: Government

Number of employees: 5000+

Location: South West England


Avon and Somerset Constabulary is one of the largest police forces in England and Wales. They are responsible for a population of almost 1.5 million people, and around 1,855 square miles of virtually every kind of landscape and community, from city centres, vast commercial and industrial complexes, international transport hubs through to wild moors, dense forests plus busy coastal towns and holiday resorts.


Avon & Somerset Constabulary had previously used a telephone service to receive initial applications for police constable and special constable roles.  A large number of potential applications had been unsuccessful in accessing this telephone service during their last police constable recruitment campaign.  Avon & Somerset Constabulary therefore wanted to introduce a robust online screening system that would streamline this process, increase the pool of talent applying for these roles and sift out the candidates with the least potential at an early stage.


Working in collaboration with Avon & Somerset Constabulary and a consortium of five other police forces in the South-West, a&dc developed a bespoke online screening process called SIFT™ (Screening Individuals for Fit and Talent). The SIFT process consists of five automated stages which are all completed online on a&dc’s Apollo assessment platform:

• Initial Candidate Registration: The candidate registers their personal details and optional equal opportunities information for diversity monitoring purposes.
• Realistic Job Preview: A short self-selection questionnaire which presents candidates with information about various demands and challenges they may face in the role, to help them choose whether they want to continue with their application.
• Eligibility Screen: At this stage, candidates complete a series of eligibility questions to establish whether they fulfil all of the essential criteria for the role, such as age, right to work in the UK, convictions and financial position.
• Behavioural Styles Questionnaire: A questionnaire about a candidate’s typical behaviour and the values they emphasise at work. Their responses are scored in relation to the competencies and values that have been shown to best predict performance of police officers.
• Situational Judgement Test: This test presents candidates with a series of realistic scenarios that officers might face in the role. Candidates must rate the effectiveness of different actions that could be taken in response to the scenario using a multiple choice format.


In its first year of use by Avon & Somerset Constabulary, more than 5,500 applicants for police constable and special constable roles completed the automated SIFT process. For the first police constable recruitment campaign, Avon & Somerset Constabulary were able to screen out 73% using SIFT, allowing the HR team to focus their attention in the later stages of recruitment on the candidates who showed the greatest potential for the role.

Introducing SIFT enabled Avon & Somerset Constabulary to increase their pool of applicants for police constable roles five-fold. Return on Investment modelling conducted by the HR team at Avon & Somerset Constabulary indicates that, in the first year alone, they achieved savings of £30,000 compared to if they had used their traditional methods of recruitment. For recruitment in year two and beyond, SIFT is projected to achieve savings of up to £50,000 per year compared to previous recruitment methods. Using SIFT has therefore added value while also reducing costs.

What the client says

“We have been using SIFT to support the external recruitment of our constables and Specials consistently for the past year and have successfully completed a number of campaigns. The online assessment tools have helped us in a number of ways, notably in reducing the amount of resource we need to apply to these campaigns, saving us both time and money whilst also opening up our application process to wider pool of potential talent compared to the way we previously recruited.” Emma Zeeman, Strategic Head of HR Avon & Somerset Constabulary

“We want to recruit and select the best talent for our future Police Officer roles and that means we need a fair, cost effective and efficient process. Our new online pre-assessment process ensures we select those who best match our behavioural selection criteria from a broad pool of candidates.” Cathy Dodsworth, Head of People Development Avon & Somerset Constabulary