90 days from today is Fri, 16 August 2024

West Mercia Police Federation

Federation warns of two-tier entry route into policing

17 May 2023

West Mercia Police Federation chair Barry Horton has repeated his warning that a new non-degree police officer entry route could create a two-tier system for new recruits which could impact future career opportunities, pay and remuneration for members.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) last month gave its backing to a Level 5 non-accredited learning programme which would be equivalent to a diploma of higher education (DipHE).

But Barry said the NPCC and College of Policing should focus on making sure the new non-degree entry would still be accredited to educational Level 6.

He warned failure to do so would go against the founding principles of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF).

His comments came after Police Federation national board member and professional development lead Paul Matthews suggested the fourth route would prove unworkable.

Paul said: “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.”

Barry said dropping the degree requirement did not mean all police officers were not trained to the same high standard.

“I welcomed the decision to re-open the non-degree entry route into policing because I always thought some really good people might be put off because of it and it is important that our workforce reflects the communities they serve,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean standards should be lowered and I worry that introducing a Level 5 programme will create a two-tier system that clashes with those officers who have been assessed at Level 6.

“The impact of that won’t be felt immediately but I think it could lead to issues over promotion and pay in years to come.”

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 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.