Leicestershire  Police Federation

Federation Chairman: Officers should not require a degree to do their job

7 July 2021


Federation Chairman: Officers should not require a degree to do their job


Leicestershire Police Federation Chair Adam Commons has added his view to the debate on whether all police officers should require a degree to do the job.

Adam said: “I have never understood why this originated, other than some snobbery from Whitehall. When I joined over 20yrs ago I was on a mixed intake – a range of ages, life experiences and backgrounds, which is just what we strive for so that we represent the people we police.

“I didn’t hold a degree at that time, I’d left school after my A Levels and had a job at a leisure centre. But that life experience and speaking to people in a work setting gave me the grounding to become a police officer at the age of 20, and I’d like to think I’ve done well since then.

“Some people on my intake were older and were fulfilling long held dreams of joining “the job” and they didn’t all have degrees either.

“I’m not saying that higher education is not worthwhile, far from it. I want my girls to go to University if they choose to. But why should holding a degree mean you are better suited to be a police officer than someone who doesn’t?

“The University of Edinburgh do a degree in parapsychology (studying monsters and ghouls I believe) Will that help you talk to someone in crisis who is intent on hurting themselves? I think not.”

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.

Adam added: “I was very pleased to see the Lincolnshire PCC speak out about the Government’s plans to move all police recruitment to degree holders.

“This job requires so many different skills, judging anyone wanting to do it on whether they possess a degree is just plain wrong and we are indirectly discriminating against older members of society who could make excellent officers, but they can’t apply. Some people will say “but Adam we have the apprenticeship programme” Really?? How many older people or those with families can take a pay cut to start at that level? I couldn’t do it.

“Policing is a skill, and you learn some of it as you go. Being able to read body language, pick up on inflections in the way someone is speaking, being able to explain a complicated high stress incident with a tiny gap in radio traffic, knowing who needs moving out of a town centre and who just needs a gentle word in their ear to get a taxi.

“You learn some of these skills through life and while doing the job, not through the ability to write a dissertation on popular music.”

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.