Effects of recruit training on police attitudes towards diversity: a randomised controlled trial of a values education programme.

13 Jun 2018

Research Question Did a values education program taught to Queensland police recruits change their attitudes towards police workplace diversity and equality, relative to recruits in the same cohorts who did not received the program? Data A survey designed to measure attitudes towards workplace diversity and related issues was administered three times to 260 police recruits, who were randomly assigned to receive a values education program or not over the 25-week initial police recruit course. The surveys were conducted in week two of the course, at the conclusion of the values education program, and six weeks after the program concluded. Methods Three separate cohorts were split by batch random assignment into experimental and controls, for 132 experimental recruits and 128 controls. Using a variety of validated scales and items, the attitudes of the two groups were compared at all three survey waves, and in comparative longitudinal trends. Findings While the values education program did not improve experimental group recruit attitudes towards diversity in the workplace over time, it protected that group from a clear decline in support for diversity associated with the standard recruit training experience. Because the design was an RCT, the study clearly revealed that the benefit of the program was as a successful buffer against what happened to reduce diversity support among the other recruits. Conclusions The findings show that in at least one police recruit experience, there is a clear shift away from support for diversity by race and gender in the police workplace in the course of initial training. Fortunately, the results also provide at least one possible preventative measure for that problem, in the form of a values education program similar to one used widely in many countries.