It was around this time a month ago when we received news that the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s decided to support the development of a level 5, non-accredited, learning programme as a fourth (non-degree) entry route into policing – a move we are still disappointed with.
PFEW strongly opposes such a route as it will lead to a multi-tier system in policing which could present issues in the future for career opportunities, pay and remuneration.
The consequences of a fourth entry route need to be fully explored before any final decisions are made. The operating level for police officers on completion of the PEQF learning routes is established at educational level 6, and this is supported by a comprehensive College learning programme and curriculum.
When the Home Secretary announced her plans for a new entry route last November, she did not envisage any reduction in the current learning standards. In fact, she stated that any new entry route would ‘deliver officers of the highest calibre, which would complement the existing framework’.
This proposed fourth route does not deliver what the Home Secretary stated, instead, it opens the door for some officers to be trained to a lower standard than others.
Whether police officers need degrees is heavily debated, but it cannot be argued that they do not require the best possible training. Baroness Casey alluded to this in her recent review, saying senior leaders prioritised finance and recruitment targets over elements such as broadening the skills base – which of course includes learning, support and supervision.
At a time when the police service is already under intense scrutiny and concerns are being raised about policing standards, it is incomprehensible that policing itself seems to be making a decision that would result in officers receiving a lower standard of training than before.
Other routes to attaining an educational level 6 without a degree do exist. The Solicitors Regulation Authority recognises an approved route to qualifying as a solicitor which does not require a degree. This is mirrored in many other occupations.
Training to become a police officer is rightly intense and requires at least two years of study and hands on experience. Completing probation and becoming substantive is a commendable achievement in itself, so it is only right it is recognised at the appropriate level.
We should not be lowering standards; we should be driving them up to meet ever-changing demands.
PFEW stands for equality and parity across all routes into policing for all members, extending to pay and remuneration. We cannot have divisive, tiered entry routes that lower standards.
We will continue to make representations at every level to ensure all police officers are adequately trained and equipped for the future.