All new police officers in England and Wales will have to be educated to degree level from next year, the College of Policing has announced.
Under significant changes, prospective officers already with a degree can do a funded post-graduate conversion course.
Alternatively, they can do an unfunded degree in policing or complete a paid three-year “degree apprenticeship”.
The Police Federation, representing the rank and file, said it was glad no minimum requirement had been imposed.
Currently, recruitment requirements vary from force to force, with some insisting applicants have A-levels or a certificate in policing and others demanding experience in a policing role.
The College of Policing, which is responsible for setting standards of ethics and training for the police service, said about a third (38%) of those currently going into policing officers have a degree or post-graduate qualification.
But the college’s Chief Constable Alex Marshall said the current workforce was not getting the same investment in training and development as people in other professions, such as medicine or the military.
“It is very lopsided and we don’t do a lot of professional development training,” he said.
The money for the apprenticeships, due to be introduced next year, is expected to come from a new 0.5% apprenticeship levy on all employers with a wage bill of more than 3m.
Under the apprenticeship, new recruits will undertake a three-year course, spending 80% of their time on the frontline, and the rest completing their degree while receiving a salary.
A six-month postgraduate conversion course would also be funded by the police.
In contrast, the policing degree would be self-funded and the student would need to apply for a police job once qualified.
The syllabus is likely to cover the law, safeguarding the vulnerable, understanding how a police officer behaves on the street and how an officer builds trust by interacting well with communities, Chief Constable Marshall said.
The College of Policing is in talks with 12 universities about running the courses.
The announcement follows a two-month public consultation. Of the 3,000 responses received, almost 80% were from police officers who mostly said they were keen to gain accreditation for their existing skills, Mr Marshall said.
Other changes to be introduced include:
- A national set of qualifications for officers following promotion, including a requirement that those applying to be assistant chief constable or above have a master’s degree
- A higher-paid “advanced practitioner” position to try to retain people working in specialist areas, such as cyber crime, and deter them from seeking promotion in a different area
Andy Fittes, general secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales, welcomed the move to accredit qualifications to serving officers, and supported the idea of a framework that might standardise policing courses.
He added that the federation was glad to see a move away from requiring minimum education requirements for those joining the service.
“There is a balance to be struck around encouraging people to have a certain level of education before joining the force, and marginalising and excluding good quality candidates from all communities by limiting the pool of potential candidates if they are unable to afford it,” he said.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38319283