20 April 2023
Police chiefs have been urged not to bring in a new non-degree police officer entry route with lower educational level amid fears it could create a two-tier system for new recruits.
The Police Federation said it strongly opposed the proposed Level 5 learning programme, which is equivalent to a diploma of higher education (DipHE), and called on the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing to ensure non-degree entry would still be accredited to educational Level 6.
It warned failure to do so defeated the founding principles of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) and could lead to problems further down the line.
Derbyshire Police Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said: “I was always very vocal in my belief that a good copper didn’t need a degree and I was relieved when the Government brought an end to that requirement.
“But I don’t think replacing it with what is essentially a two-track system is a good idea at all because all officers need to be trained to the same very high standards.
“Operating two different learning programmes could potentially cause confusion around standards and create issues with officers joining the police via entry routes assessed as Level 6.
“There has to be a fair approach between different learning routes and one should not be held to a higher standard of education to another. That doesn’t make sense.”
“It is clear to me that the straightforward answer to this issue is just as it was at the outset – recruit the right people, in the right numbers, at the right time and deliver to them a fit-for-purpose training programme which equips them so that they can excel in their police career and provide world class service to the communities they serve. In my view, successful completion of that training programme should be recognised at Level 6.”
The new Level 5 (non-accredited) learning programme is being made available for forces as soon as possible but not later than 1 April 2024.
A number of forces are yet to engage with education partners about the impact of new standards and learning on existing Level 6 contractual obligations and await the College of Policing’s further implementation guidance and the design of associated curricula.
The Police Federation said it was still awaiting the equality impact assessment of the decision to introduce the non-degree entry route supporting Level 5 qualification but, in the meantime, urged the NPCC and the college to ensure any change in the policy ensures that the standards defining competence in the police constable role remain the same irrespective of the entry routes.