NPCC Defiinition of a Staff Network

07 Feb 2024

The National Police Chiefs Council has agreed to the following definition being circulated to, and adopted by, Police Forces in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.

National Staff Network Definition

The National Police Chiefs Council has agreed to the following definition being circulated to, and adopted by, Police Forces in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.

It is NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED under the Government Protective Marking Scheme and any referrals for advice and rationale in relation to Freedom of Information Act disclosure should be made to the NPCC Central Referral Unit at [email protected].

Document information

Protective marking:                                                                    NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Author:                                                                                           Nicola Spragg/Fiona Merkin

Force/Organisation:                                                                    NPCC

National Policing Coordination Committee Area:              Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Contact details:                                                                                              [email protected]

Review date:                                                                                 January 2025

Version:                                                                                          1.0

This definition has been approved by the NPCC Chair, the NPCC Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Coordination Committee chair and the NPCC Internal Stakeholder Group for circulation to Police Forces in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. The purpose of this definition sets out the position of the NPCC with respect to staff networks and sets out the criteria for what is recognised as a National Network.

Any queries relating to this document should be directed to either the author detailed above or the NPCC Business Support Office on 020 7084 8959/8958.

© 2024 – NPCC

Purpose of this document:

This document sets out the position of the NPCC with respect to staff networks, and sets the criteria for what is recognised as a National Network.

This position is not intended to prevent emerging networks, rather provide a framework that ensures coordination and effectiveness in the work of networks.

The following principles underline the NPCC recognition of staff networks.

  • One size does not fit all.
  • Different staff networks have a different level of maturity and have different needs.
  • There may be a different policing ask of staff networks at different times, in response to national critical issues.
  • Staff networks have a role in preventing critical issues or escalation.
  • There is a need to support building both the capacity as well as capabilities of those in the staff networks to undertake the role, not just direct financial support.
  • There is a need for consistency of support which benefits from a national approach (irrespective of which force currently hosts the executive members of a staff network).
  • There is a two-way relationship between staff networks and NPCC and those that represent it.
  • National and local messaging may have different objectives and any structures need to recognise the national and the local.
  • The national staff network infrastructure is an enabler to local staff networks.
  • Recognition that staff networks do not replace the formal consultation mechanisms statutorily in place.

Recognised national staff networks are engaged through the NPCC Internal Stakeholder Engagement Group, and have access to the operating budget allocated to this group through a business case bid process. Recognised national staff networks also fall under the MOU agreed in Chiefs Council in September 2022 that provides the framework for Chief Constables to agree reasonable time spent by executive officers on staff network business.

National Staff Network Definition:

The NPCC recognise a National Staff Network as a body that:

1)  Links to a protected characteristic defined by the Equality Act.


The link to a protected characteristic as defined by the Equality Act enables support to be considered in a legal context of supporting forces to deliver the Public Sector Equality Duty as defined by s149 of the Equality Act.

The Public Sector Equality Duty:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
    • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
    • Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

It distinguishes staff networks from sports and social related groups, or those that are developed through a common interest.

The protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act:

  • age
    • disability
    • gender reassignment
    • marriage and civil partnership
    • pregnancy and maternity
    • race
    • religion or belief
    • sex
    • sexual orientation

2)  Has an elected chair.


If national networks are to be engaged as national stakeholders, and bring an internal voice to the work of the NPCC, it is important that the chair can demonstrate they have a mandate to do so on behalf of the network.

3)  Membership is open to all police officers and staff.


The NPCC recognise the importance of inclusion, and allyship. The infrastructure of the network should enable membership nationally, either through individuals or local network affiliation.

4)  Raises the awareness of issues that affect people who share the protected characteristics.


This recognises that the members of the network bring lived experience both as individuals within policing, and as part of the communities in which they live.

5)  Supports the police service to deliver fair and equitable service to all communities.


This links the staff network to delivery of good policing to all communities, providing the external focus of the networks.

6)  Supports the professional development of staff who share the protected characteristic.


The internal focus of the staff networks supports the development, progression and retention of under represented staff. This becomes an enabler to the strategic objective of creating a representative workforce.

7)  Recognises intersectionality and engages across networks to ensure coordination, effectiveness and reduce duplication.


Most people will share multiple protected characteristics. Work across networks is required to ensure unique experiences are understood.

8)  Acts as a Stakeholder at a national level, and provides a link to local stakeholder engagement through a local footprint.


National networks engage at a national level, and their infrastructure enables cascade of message to the local footprint of the network. This ensures engagement is at the right level across the levels of the network.

9)  Is not a statutory association.


Distinguishes the nature of staff networks from the statutory position of the staff associations – eg The Police Federation, the Police Superintendents’ Association, UNISON, Public & Commercial Services Union. The NPCC recognises its obligation to formally consult with statutory associations, and their role in supporting staff through formal processes.

10)  Does not duplicate existing national networks.


Recognises that staff networks may develop through collective experience of a particular shared issue, but enables coordination and effectiveness by recognising existing networks can maximise reach through existing infrastructure.

Span of Existing National Staff Networks recognised by the NPCC:

Protected CharacteristicNational Staff Network linked to Protected Characteristic
DisabilityDisabled Police Association National Police Autism Association
Marriage and Civil Partnership 
Pregnancy and Maternity 
RaceGypsy, Roma, Traveller Police Association Jewish Police Association National Black Police Association
Religion or BeliefChristian Police Association Hindu Police Association National Association of Muslim Police Police Pagan Association National Sikh Police Association
SexBritish Association for Women in Policing
Sexual orientationNational LGBT+ Police Network
Gender Reassignment

Approach to new and emerging Staff Networks:

Staff networks are often emergent in nature, meeting an unmet need. Through the NPCC Internal Stakeholder Engagement Group, the NPCC will consider recognition of a group as a national staff network, or signpost to existing recognised national groups.

Ownership Review:

This document is owned by the NPCC Internal Stakeholder Group and will be reviewed annually.

Next Review – January 2025.

Associated documents:

Appendix A – Flow diagram for National Network recognition (to follow) Appendix B – NPCC National Staff Networks Register

Appendix C – MOU for National staff network chairs

Annex B – NPCC National Networks Register Current National Staff Networks:

  • British Association of Women in Policing
  • Christian Police Association
  • Disabled Police Association
  • Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Police Association
  • Hindu Police Association
  • Jewish Police Association
  • National Association of Muslim Police
  • National Black Police Association
  • National LGBT+ Association
  • National Police Autism Association
  • Police Pagan Association
  • National Sikh Police Association

Annex C – MOU

Memorandum of Understanding for Executive Officers of Staff Networks

  1. This MoU relates to Executive Officers (EO) of national staff networks.
  2. Release of those within force level staff networks should be subject of local arrangements.
  3. This MoU does not prohibit in any way bespoke agreements made between an executive member and their own Chief Constable. This MoU is seen as the minimum agreeable level.
  4. Staff networks are a key strategic asset in delivering a truly diverse workforce and in delivering an effective service to our diverse communities. Their contribution cannot be underestimated and they are an essential link between our staff, our communities and our organisation.
  5. To be effective, those who hold executive roles within the national staff networks will require to be released from their day-to-day activities to fulfil their obligations within that role.
  6. The release of staff should be allowed as is reasonable taking account the nature of the role held and subject to the operational requirements of the force.
  7. Where the Chief Constable and EO disagree with how much time should be afforded to fulfil the obligations of the national role then either party may approach the Chair of the NPCC Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee to facilitate a further discussion between parties. The DEI Chair will be able to provide comment and advice but the final decision as to how much time will be afforded will be that of the Chief Constable of the home force.
  8. It is anticipated that a majority of the requests to be released can be given by the EO in good time to enable the organisation to make alternative arrangements to cover their duty where necessary.
  9. Reasonable travel and accommodation expenses should be met by the home force.
  10. Chief Constables should ensure that line managers are both aware of and instructed to follow this MoU.
  11. The release of staff and any requests that are declined should be recorded by the EO and annually collated and reported via the Chair of the respective national staff network to the DEI Committee to enable the efficacy of this MoU to be continually assessed.
  12. The DEI Committee Chair will provide an annual report to the Committee outlining details of any interactions made under para 7 and information gathered under para 11.

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