4 November 2022
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton is backing calls from 16 Police and Crime Commissioners including Derbyshire’s Angelique Foster for a relaxation of the requirement for new recruits to study for a degree level qualification.
The PCCs have written to the Home Secretary to warn her that up to 10 per cent of their officers are stuck in classrooms rather than fighting crime on the frontlines. And they are urging Suella Braverman to allow forces to revert to the “traditional” training method, where officers can hit the beat after 20 weeks’ training.
They say the requirement to study may be deterring non-academic recruits or older people switching careers into policing.
Matthew Scott, PCC for Kent, who organised the letter, told The Telegraph newspaper: “We are turning away perfectly good people because we have decided you need a degree to be a police officer. There are many fine police officers who have never had a degree.”
Tony said: “We welcome the intervention of their PCCs on this issue because we have said all along that you don’t need a degree to be a good police officer. Some of the most effective officers I have known in my career have come into policing from other jobs and careers without a degree level qualification, done their initial police training and gone on to learn their craft on the streets alongside more experienced officers.
“We are not saying that policing is not a highly skilled profession, of course it is. We have long asked for officers’ skills to be formally recognised as a qualification – and degree level is probably about right given the complexity of the profession. But it is about striking the right balance.
“The training given to new police officers needs to be relevant, up-to-date and fit-for purpose. That equally applies to those many officers already in service – their continued training and development is vital and must be properly resourced. The demands on officers, including the complexity and nature of crime, is ever-changing and the training needs to be dynamic in responding to those changes.
“It is clear that the training product currently being delivered needs updating and developing – unsurprisingly much of that is down to underfunding during the years of cuts to policing budgets and numbers. However, I am not sure that spending so much time in the first years of an officer’s career in the classroom or lecture theatre, or writing dissertations, is in their interest or the public’s.
“So, I hope the letter from our PCC and the others will lead to an outbreak of common sense on this issue. There needs to be flexibility. Employ the right people as police officers, in the right numbers at the right time, train them well and look after them. How hard can that be?”
Kit Malthouse signed off on the new regulations during his time as Policing Minister. They take effect from March next year and will make it mandatory that any officer completing their three-year probation will have gained a graduate-level qualification.
The training programme is intended to prepare officers to cope with growing challenges, from cyber threats and fraud to investigating rape and domestic abuse - and the programme will be standard across all 43 police English and Welsh forces.
Trainee police will also be required to complete an evidence-based research project as part of their final assessment. Those who complete the training will get a degree in professional policing.
Former Chief Constable Andy Marsh, who now leads the College of Policing, said: “Like so many areas of life, crime and the demands policing faces have changed radically, and the training we provide officers needs to reflect this.”
However, PCCs fear the emphasis on academic study will deter older recruits, lead to an imbalance in the workforce towards younger and inexperienced people, and hamper forces’ ability to meet the Government’s 20,000-officer uplift targets.