The government here in the United Kingdom is planning many reforms for the police force. One of the idea’s that has been raised is a fast track system for graduates from the top Universities, an idea aimed to try and tempt more students for a life in the police.
I may be wrong but I believed there already was a fast track scheme for university graduates however they usually if not always start with the rank of “Police Constable” which is the first and lowest rank in the police force. This means that every person even right up to the very top has served at least some time in that role and has been a “Bobby on the beat.” This appears to be something that is about to change.
“Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor believes the only way to make policing a more attractive career to students at top universities is to recruit about 80 “direct entry” graduates a year into the rank of inspector.”
Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, hopes to recruit up to eighty graduates from top universities every year for a “direct entry” graduate scheme which would propel them to the rank of Inspector. I’m guessing they would also pass Go and collect £200.
I’m going to address that point first. If the police force recruited eighty students from top Universities for direct entry every year, within ten years there would be hundreds of people who are of the rank of inspector or above who have a higher rank and yet considerably less experience than many Constables. In my opinion what it would create is an officer class. The people who have graduated from the best universities getting entry to the police higher than others and moving up the ranks quicker are most likely to be people from a privileged background as opposed to a person from a working class background. Whilst I understand their desire to open up the doors to graduates and make a career of the police more interesting and tempting they would also bring in claims of elitism over a period of time, say fifteen years. I am far from an expert on policing methods but even I can see the importance of every officer in the force from the ground up to the highest ranks having at least some experience of patrolling. Training cannot fully compensate for experience.
“Under the plans, unveiled in Parliament by policing minister Damian Green, dozens of outsiders would be able to go straight into the police as superintendents. Others would join a fast-track scheme to speed their progress to the rank of inspector.
In a further change in the law foreign citizens would for the first time be allowed to become chief constables. A consultation document published today also suggests that they should be able to join forces directly at that rank.”
This may seem unnaturally nationalist of me but I do not believe we should be automatically looking to outsiders to lead institutions like the police force, especially foreigners. If there is no-one from our own nation that is good enough and qualified enough then surely that means they should work harder at training and making sure the right people have the right experience so that in the future some of them may qualify for the top jobs? I am not trying to take a tabloid-esque stance on this but when you hear about the proverbial gates being thrown open to foreign citizens you have to wonder why that is. Not only that but that would be foreign citizens who join “directly at that rank”, therefore bypassing the lower ranks where the base of experience comes from in that particular profession.
One possible advantage to this is that such a scheme is also aimed at bringing in people with experience with one of the other public services, for example the army, RAF or the Royal Navy. I don’t think that is a terrible idea since such people are likely to have considerable experience in leadership and teamwork as well as having a clear idea about structure. For this reason I believe such people are less likely to the burden of this problem though whether the scheme as a whole is viable remains to be seen.
The full report can be found at the link here:
I intend to read as much of it as possible to get a full idea of what the proposals are though I might certainly say from the outset that I can see more than one flaw in these proposals. Police union leaders are certainly very opposed to it.
“Do you have to have been a shelf-stacker to be the chairman of Marks and Spencer? Absolutely not,” says Police Federation vice-chairman Steve White.
“But the police service is unique. It is a unique set of skills. We feel very strongly that you have to have that grounding.”
Breaking up fights in city centres on a Saturday night, turning up alone to violent “domestics”, delivering the bad news to relatives of murder victims – these kind of experiences shape a young officer’s character and ability to lead, he argues.
“Sometimes you have got to be able to make decisions instantly. It is not like working in a bank, where you can sit and ponder stuff.
“Police officers have a sixth sense which is built up over time. It is like the X Factor.”
Without that X Factor, you risk turning officers into out-of-touch, over-educated technocrats that no longer have anything in common with the people they are policing, he claims.”
It will be very interesting to see the development of this and how, if at all this benefits the police force.