NCA Response to Poor Compliance of Recruitment Rules


The NCOA recently published the Civil Service Commission's report naming the National Crime Agency as one of nine named organisation's that performed poorly in relation to meeting the 'merit based' rules for recruiting.

In response to our [NCOA] Under Cover magazine article and the CS watchdog annual report, an agency representative said:

During 2020-21, the NCA launched two large scale recruitment campaigns which involved processing close to 20,000 applications at one time.  Resulting in over 3,000 successful applicants to process and manage through the candidate pool and/or offer process, and the recruitment of over 1000 officers. 

Following the 2020-21 annual audit, undertaken by the Civil Service Commission (the regulatory body for appointments to the Civil Service), the NCA was informed in June 2021 it had fallen slightly short of the normal ‘merit-based’ rules for recruitment as a result of two isolated breaches.  One was in relation to merit order posting and one related to record keeping.

Referring to the breach of merit order, due to the fact the NCA contacted the CS Commission to report this breach this assessment was expected.  Robust processes have subsequently been put in place to ensure posting out of merit order does not happen in the future.

In relation to the breach of record keeping,  this was one occasion where challenges in the IT system impacted on 2 candidates at a posting panel. One candidate lower down the merit list received their offer first, due to a query being dealt with in relation to the higher scorer.  Both candidates were posted at the same time and documentation was provided to prove this.  Unfortunately this was still recorded as a breach.

During 2020-21, improvements to our recruitment processes included:

  • Diversity & Inclusion -  Introducing diversity impact assessments and involving the Commission when looking at raising benchmarks.  
  • Inclusion in a number of Going Forward into Employment initiatives, such as the Veterans Scheme and Care Leavers Scheme.
  • Being part of the Civil Service pilot offering a guaranteed interview for veterans and being involved in assessing the impact this has on diversity and working alongside other Civil Service department to review the scheme’s success.
  • Improving our candidate communication by further developing and evolving the remit of the Candidate Engagement Team.
  • Process improvements have been put in place, incorporating additional quality assurance checks and making the manual data we produce more robust until we have automation in place.
  • Communications Team have undertaken work on attraction.

I am pleased to say the improvements don’t just stop here though, moving forward we have committed to:

  • Issuing an invitation to the Commission into the Agency to provide a greater understanding of what we do and the restrictions we work under, with a view to the Commission understanding our mission more.
  • Work through the principles and seek common ground on whether we should be treated in a similar fashion to UKIC.

Evidencing the continual improvements, in relation to processes and systems, an interim audit took place in August 2021 with the findings from the Commission being extremely positive.  We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Commission to continually improve and enhance the recruitment experience and firmly establish the NCA as an Employer of Choice.