Recruitment of the Director of the VRU

Summary of recruitment

Lib Peck was appointed to the Director of the Violence Reduction Unit on 14th January following a rigorous, open and transparent recruitment process run by an independent Executive Search Agency - Hays Executive. The aim of the search was to find the most credible candidate for the role based on competence and capability, underpinned by impartiality, diversity, partnerships and community involvement. Hays Executive were appointed based on their detailed and thorough approach to diversity across all stages of recruitment; their excellent track record of managing high profile campaigns with multiple stakeholders; and their ability to deliver on time and at a reasonable cost.

Officials were the decision makers in the process until the final assessment day when they were joined by the Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime and Deputy Mayor for Social Integration. Candidates had already been rigorously tested against the criteria for the role at every stage. Hays Executive carried out the executive search and initial interviews. 

Sift and Interview panel members were asked to declare conflicts of interest at the start of each panel discussion. There were some panel members who had prior working knowledge / relationships with a number of candidates on the longlist and shortlist however this is to be expected in a small industry and was balanced by the diversity of panel – with members coming from a range of partner organisations and independent HR involvement.

Approach to diversity

A deliberate effort was made to increase the diversity of the candidate field through:

  • Actively encouraging applications from diverse backgrounds through networking, targeted advertising, and careful branding
  • Using Hays’ relationship with a wide range of diversity networks to seek advice and recommendations for candidates
  • Considering analysis of groups and communities most affected by violence and knife crime and proactively identifying potential candidates with a suitable skill set from those groups
  • Using technology to ensure adverts do not unduly put off underrepresented groups

As a result, 41% of applications were from a BAME background. Following applications, diversity was woven throughout the selection methodology through actions such as ensuring a diverse panel, working to mitigate the risk of unconscious bias and using a range of psychometrics to ensure no adverse impact on any group. 30% of those longlisted and 25% of those interviewed were from a BAME background. The final decision was based on merit as tested through a diverse interview and community panel.

Longlist and shortlist

At both longlist and shortlist stages a diverse panel (set out below)  rigorously assessed the candidates’ competence and capability through measuring the CV and cover letter against the core criteria set out in the job description. 

Following the initial sift, 10 candidates were selected for the longlist. Hays Executive independently carried out thorough interviews with each candidate testing their capability against the criteria above and presented their findings to the panel during the shortlisting panel.

Final assessment

The four shortlisted candidates completed two rigorous psychometric personality profiling tests to provide an indication of their preferred behavioural style and underlying traits. Following this the candidates attended an assessment day involving a panel interview and a community panel discussion.

The panel (membership set out below) were briefed by independent psychologists from Hays Executive about the results of the psychometric tests at the start of the day to help determine areas for particular focus. The panel interview consisted of thorough questioning against the criteria set out above.

Following the panel interview, candidates led a discussion with community leaders from Hackney, which was facilitated by an independent psychologist from Hays Executive, testing their ability to empathise with others, their motivation and understanding of grassroots communities, their communication skills and their ability to get under the surface of issues and co-produce workable solutions to complex problems.

Ruchi Singh, Interim Mobilisation Lead for the VRU also observed the group. Feedback from the community group was provided to the interview panel by the independent psychologist and Ruchi Singh and had a material impact on the outcome of the assessment day.


Panels were built to ensure diversity and breadth of expertise from across partner organisations. Officials were the decision makers in the process until the final assessment day when they were joined by the Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime and Deputy Mayor for Social Integration. 30% of the longlisting and shortlisting panel were from a BAME background, 25% of the interview panel, as follows:

  • Rebecca Lawrence, Chief Executive MOPAC
  • Mary Harpley, Chief Officer GLA
  • Martin Hewitt, Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Police
  • John O’Brien, Chief Executive London Councils
  • Kate Bonham, Head of HR, MOPAC
  • Caroline Reid, Deputy Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London Region) NHS England
  • Ruchi Singh, Interim Head of Mobilisation, VRU – longlist and shortlist only, observed community panel in final assessment day
  • Jo Murfitt, Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning, Public Health Commissioning, Health in Justice and Military Health, NHS England – longlist and shortlist only
  • Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime – interview panel only
  • Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement - interview panel only

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