Police Federation

PFEW presses for Level 6 non-degree entry route

New non-degree entry route must not deskill our police service and put the public at risk.

22 June 2023


The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is continuing to press the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing to apply its original proposal for a new non-degree entry route accredited to educational Level 6.

Fresh calls have come amid Hampshire Constabulary Chief Scott Chilton reiterating police should be out on the beat dealing with crime and helping victims, 'not writing essays'. It became the first force to scrap the degree requirement for people wanting to join the service back in March.

PFEW Professional Development Lead Paul Matthews, when interviewed on the topic, told TalkTV there must be a standardised approach across all 43 forces: “The issue is we have several routes into policing, one of which is a degree apprenticeship," he said.

“What we are asking for at the Police Federation is for these routes to be standardised, with one pathway into policing – and that route to embody a high level of training.”

In March, the NPCC decided to support the development of a level 5, non-accredited, learning programme as a fourth (non-degree) entry route into policing – a move PFEW is disappointed with as it opens the door for some officers to be trained to a lower standard than others.

PFEW strongly opposes such a divisive 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 in addition to the issue of training and public safety.

“When the College of Policing reviewed the level police officers were working at and the level of training and education back in 2016, it determined police officers were operating at an educational level of six – which is equivalent to a degree,” Paul explained.

“It then came up with a degree programme, where officers could, as part of an apprenticeship, do a degree at a university that compliments their training, then at the end of their probation they would be a substantive officer and have a degree.

“I think it is only fair that if they are working and operating as hard as they are to a level six, they are accredited in some way. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a degree.

“There are many other occupations such as a solicitor for example where this is the case. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has a route into being a solicitor that doesn’t require a degree and they still operate at an educational level of six. So, there are options available.”

PFEW has also asked police chiefs and the College to consider removing the dissertation part of the degree in favour of a non-honours degree to free up time, as many student officers are understandably struggling to deliver frontline duties on top of studying due to the demands of the job.

“I have been in the police 23 years and was trained at Hendon back in 2000,” added Paul.

“That was a very intensive 18 week’s residential course which has morphed over the years to where we are now. Now officers are in and out of universities, as well as having to do their work at home and working on the frontline with cancelled rest days.

“I imagine for a new recruit now going through their probation must be extremely difficult to come out the end of it with a degree and pass.”

PFEW is continuing to push for protected learning time, so officers do not have to undertake required learning outside of working hours, however, this is only the part of the solution.

Training new officers to a lower standard if they do not choose to do a degree will cause further issues within policing.

We should be raising standards of training to enable officers to do the best possible job they can, not deskilling our workforce and putting the public at risk.

In case you missed it, you can rewatch his interview below.

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