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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

"Having a degree has never helped in the pubs and clubs on a Friday night"

8 July 2021

“I have a psychology degree – and I don’t think that would necessarily have helped me police the pubs and clubs on a Friday night… we need a balance of people in policing…”

Avon and Somerset Police Federation Secretary-elect Tony Henley has added his view to the debate on whether all police officers should require a degree to do the job.

Tony said: “I don’t think all police officers need degrees. What we need to have is as wide an experience base as possible if we are to represent society. And there’s lots of people in society who don’t have degrees – so I think our experience base needs to be wide, and we need to draw on as many people as we can.

“I think academia is important – it’s important that we are able to think critically, and able to discuss as we move towards the evidence-based policing. But there’s a whole range of behaviours that aren’t linked to academia, and so the ability to be compassionate, the ability to be able to understand and speak to other people, aren’t necessarily specific to the academia.”

The College of Policing wants all recruits to gain a degree before joining the force – or to gain one on the job.

Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones – soon to be the new PCC head – has urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to scrap plans for graduate-only police recruits and says ex-soldiers will be better than university leavers with 'expressive dance' degrees.

His comments come after Nick Adderley, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Constabulary, criticised the all-graduate recruit plans.

CC Adderley said police recruits joining after university are not prepared to work nights or weekends and are 'sadly lacking' in life experience.

Tony added: “I have a psychology degree – and I don’t think that would necessarily have helped me on a Friday night. Probably not. It may help give me an understanding as to why people, you know, went in a fight, flight, freeze model, but actually it’s the ability that I hope I have to be able to communicate that’s been most effective.

“I worked in firearms for 17 years and I was an advocate of people from the military going straight into the firearms, and training as firearms specialists, because they have a certain skillset. So, I think it’s more about the people, who they are as individuals, as well as academia, and I think you’ve got to balance it.”

Bernie O’Reilly, interim CEO of the College of Policing, said: 'Policing has changed significantly in recent years and the new training has been created to reflect the challenges officers face and recognise the complex nature of the job.

'The public deserves highly trained, highly skilled officers that can protect them from all crime types, from domestic violence and digital fraud, through to organised crime and modern slavery, as well as protecting vulnerable people.”

The College of Policing added that the new training scheme had already been adopted by 33 forces.