The Decline of “Joining the Police” in Britain: A Shift in Career Aspirations

In recent years, the landscape of career aspirations has been shifting, and one noticeable trend in the United Kingdom is the decline in Google searches for “joining the police.” This article aims to analyze the provided data, highlighting the highs and lows of search interest over the years. Additionally, we will explore potential reasons for this decline and shed light on the changing attitudes toward law enforcement careers.

Analyzing the Data

Ahrefs is a comprehensive and powerful website analysis platform that offers a wide range of tools and features to help businesses and digital marketers improve their online presence and optimize their search engine rankings. With its extensive database and advanced algorithms, Ahrefs provides valuable insights into website performance, competitor analysis, keyword research, backlink analysis, and content optimization. Users can access detailed reports on organic search traffic, keyword rankings, site audits, and more, allowing them to identify opportunities for improvement and make data-driven decisions. Ahrefs is where we obtained our data for this article.

Below are the average monthly search volumes for the term “How to Join the Police” for the United Kingdom.

  • September 1, 2015: Volume = 2540
  • October 1, 2015: Volume = 808
  • November 1, 2015: Volume = 2078
  • December 1, 2015: Volume = 1270
  • January 1, 2016: Volume = 1270
  • February 1, 2016: Volume = 1616
  • March 1, 2016: Volume = 808
  • April 1, 2016: Volume = 2309
  • May 1, 2016: Volume = 1616
  • June 1, 2016: Volume = 1385
  • July 1, 2016: Volume = 1270
  • August 1, 2016: Volume = 3117
  • September 1, 2016: Volume = 1270
  • October 1, 2016: Volume = 2309
  • November 1, 2016: Volume = 1847
  • December 1, 2016: Volume = 462
  • January 1, 2017: Volume = 115
  • February 1, 2017: Volume = 693
  • March 1, 2017: Volume = 1847
  • April 1, 2017: Volume = 1616
  • May 1, 2017: Volume = 1847
  • June 1, 2017: Volume = 2193
  • July 1, 2017: Volume = 1847
  • August 1, 2017: Volume = 577
  • September 1, 2017: Volume = 1154
  • October 1, 2017: Volume = 1039
  • November 1, 2017: Volume = 924
  • December 1, 2017: Volume = 693
  • January 1, 2018: Volume = 1501
  • February 1, 2018: Volume = 577
  • March 1, 2018: Volume = 1377
  • April 1, 2018: Volume = 1054
  • May 1, 2018: Volume = 1608
  • June 1, 2018: Volume = 1146
  • July 1, 2018: Volume = 2127
  • August 1, 2018: Volume = 1608
  • September 1, 2018: Volume = 1585
  • October 1, 2018: Volume = 1204
  • November 1, 2018: Volume = 1666
  • December 1, 2018: Volume = 1169
  • January 1, 2019: Volume = 1658
  • February 1, 2019: Volume = 1774
  • March 1, 2019: Volume = 1771
  • April 1, 2019: Volume = 1540
  • May 1, 2019: Volume = 1765
  • June 1, 2019: Volume = 1501
  • July 1, 2019: Volume = 1635
  • August 1, 2019: Volume = 1564
  • September 1, 2019: Volume = 1295
  • October 1, 2019: Volume = 1331
  • November 1, 2019: Volume = 1558
  • December 1, 2019: Volume = 1151
  • January 1, 2020: Volume = 1686
  • February 1, 2020: Volume = 1214
  • March 1, 2020: Volume = 1318
  • April 1, 2020: Volume = 1710
  • May 1, 2020: Volume = 1408
  • June 1, 2020: Volume = 1324
  • July 1, 2020: Volume = 1116
  • August 1, 2020: Volume = 652
  • September 1, 2020: Volume = 806
  • October 1, 2020: Volume = 660
  • November 1, 2020: Volume = 654
  • December 1, 2020: Volume = 506
  • January 1, 2021: Volume = 1226
  • February 1, 2021: Volume = 816
  • March 1, 2021: Volume = 810
  • April 1, 2021: Volume = 810
  • May 1, 2021: Volume = 810
  • June 1, 2021: Volume = 804
  • July 1, 2021: Volume = 654
  • August 1, 2021: Volume = 658
  • September 1, 2021: Volume = 808
  • October 1, 2021: Volume = 654
  • November 1, 2021: Volume = 658
  • December 1, 2021: Volume = 444
  • January 1, 2022: Volume = 812
  • February 1, 2022: Volume = 658
  • March 1, 2022: Volume = 508
  • April 1, 2022: Volume = 448
  • May 1, 2022: Volume = 456
  • June 1, 2022: Volume = 454
  • July 1, 2022: Volume = 468
  • August 1, 2022: Volume = 518
  • September 1, 2022: Volume = 524
  • October 1, 2022: Volume = 522
  • November 1, 2022: Volume = 454
  • December 1, 2022: Volume = 366
  • January 1, 2023: Volume = 656

Yearly search volume totals

  • 2017 – 14545
  • 2018 – 16622
  • 2019 – 18543
  • 2020 – 13054
  • 2021 – 9152
  • 2022 – 6188

Download the Ahrefs spreadsheet here. 

The data provided offers valuable insights into the search volume for “how to join the police” from September 2015 to January 2023. By examining the figures, we can identify both the highest and lowest search periods during this timeframe.

Highest Search Times:

  1. August 2016: With a search volume of 3,117, this month witnessed a peak in interest for joining the police. It indicates a period when law enforcement careers were sought after and highly regarded.
  2. November 2016: Following closely behind, October 2016 experienced a search volume of 2309. It further exemplifies a strong interest in police careers during this period.

Lowest Search Times:

  1. January 2021: At this point, the search volume dwindled to a mere 444. This all-time low suggests a significant decline in interest in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
  2. December 2022: Recorded the lowest search volume to just only 366 searches. This sudden drop highlights the fluctuating nature of search trends and attitudes towards join the UK police.

Reasons for the Decline?

Changing Perceptions: Over the years, societal perceptions of law enforcement have been influenced by various factors, including high-profile incidents and controversies. Negative publicity and public scrutiny may have contributed to a decline in interest in joining the police force. These incidents, which receive significant media coverage, erode public trust and confidence in the UK Police Service. They create an atmosphere of skepticism and scrutiny, leading potential candidates to question the integrity and ethics of the profession.

The tarnished reputation resulting from these cases makes it increasingly challenging for police recruitment campaigns to attract qualified individuals who may be deterred by the perceived risks and public perception surrounding joining the police force.

Alternative Career Paths: The decline in searches for “joining the police” could also be attributed to the rise in popularity of alternative career paths. With advancements in technology, increased access to higher education, and a wider range of career options, individuals may be exploring other professions that align with their evolving interests and aspirations.

Several years ago, the College of Policing implemented a significant change in the education requirements for joining the police force in the UK. They introduced degree entry, mandating that all new recruits must possess a degree, regardless of the field of study. This decision has had a profound impact on recruitment and has created a potential disparity between the police and the public they serve. Policing is meant to reflect the diversity and composition of society.

However, in 2017, only 22.6% of the UK population held a degree or higher, leaving a large portion of the public ineligible to join the police. One group greatly affected by this requirement is ex-forces personnel who often exit the military without a degree, despite possessing qualities such as discipline, courage, commitment, and a strong work ethic that align with the demands of police work.

This shift in recruitment criteria has had far-reaching consequences for the overall effectiveness of policing, as it may result in individuals without the necessary qualities being hired while excluding talented candidates with practical experience and problem-solving abilities.

During my time in the police force, I vividly recall being part of a class of 25 officers, where only a small number had obtained a degree. Interestingly, some of the most outstanding individuals I had the privilege of working with did not possess a degree. Instead, they relied on their abundant common sense and exceptional problem-solving abilities to excel in their roles as dedicated police officers. This experience serves as a testament to the fact that a degree is not the sole determinant of an officer’s competence, as qualities like practical wisdom and critical thinking skills are equally vital in the field of law enforcement.

Recruitment Strategies: The manner in which law enforcement agencies promote and recruit new officers could impact search trends. If recruitment efforts are not effectively reaching potential candidates or failing to showcase the benefits of a police career, it could lead to a decline in interest.

College of Policing has seen a Decline in traffic

Over the last two years, the College of Policing’s website has experienced a noticeable decline in organic traffic from Google to its “Join the Police” page. This decline, again, may be attributed to the negative press surrounding the police in recent times.

With high-profile incidents and controversies grabbing media attention, public sentiment and trust towards law enforcement have been impacted. As a result, individuals considering a career in the police force may be discouraged or skeptical, leading to a decrease in organic searches and interest in joining the police.

The College of Policing must address these concerns and work towards rebuilding trust to attract potential candidates amidst the challenging climate and negative narratives surrounding the profession.

Implications and Conclusion:

The decline in Google searches for “joining the police” in the United Kingdom signifies a shift in career aspirations and changing attitudes toward law enforcement careers. The data clearly demonstrates both the highest and lowest search periods, showcasing the fluctuating interest over the years.

While the exact reasons for this decline may be multifaceted, changing perceptions with constant media attention, the availability of alternative career paths, and recruitment strategies likely play significant roles. It is crucial for police services up and down the country to adapt to these changing dynamics and actively address concerns while highlighting the rewarding aspects of joining the police force.

As our society evolves, so too do the career choices and aspirations of individuals. The decline in interest in law enforcement careers observed through Google search data is indicative of a broader trend, reflecting the changing landscape of how people perceive the police, alternative available professions and the need for adaptability within the policing sector.

Whatever the answer is to the decline in google searches, it is undeniably troubling if it continues, as the future of the police force relies on attracting qualified and motivated individuals to join its ranks.

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Steve Jones

Steve Jones

My name is Steve Jones and I set up this website in 2012. I am an Ex-Police Officer with over 17 years experience in various departments, posted to some of the roughest places in UK. I initially set up the website during a time of big change in the Police Service. Police Pension, Pay and conditions had been compromised. I really wanted the wider Police Community to save money and I found that I could use this website to find deals relevant for the Police, for example, Police Boots and equipment. Since then the Website has continued to grow and I hope that the Police Family continue to save money from these exclusive deals and promotions. Free free to contact me via email, or take a look at my Linkdin profile.

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