Take a look around you.
All the police officers you know – regardless of their rank – have one thing in common.
It’s that they have been there and done that.
It has been said many times, but one of the greatest strengths of the British Police Service is that all officers have started at the same level –on the beat, getting their hands dirty by making arrests.
You cannot put a price on that experience.
They have the respect of their peers. They have the respect of those that serve under them. They give an order, knowing that they have been there and done it themselves.
And they have many years of operational experience to call upon when they make those decisions.
This is, of course, now changing.
The College of Policing proudly pronounced this week that the move to fast-track external recruits into senior policing roles for the first time – better known as direct entry – is about to come into force in England and Wales.
A second “fast-track” scheme for some graduate recruits, enabling them to rise from constable to inspector in three years, is also being introduced.
Force recruitment websites will begin to open for both programmes on Monday (April 7).
So there you have it.
If huge attacks to pay and pensions were not enough, yet another slap in the face to hard working officers.
Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, summed up the views of many officers, stating: “Direct entry candidates will have absolutely no credibility, no experience, and no confidence of the officers they are expected to lead, in situations they have never experienced.”
You would not have a direct entry pilot to land a plane full of people. You wouldn’t have a surgeon coming in under direct entry to operate on people.
And what about fast track? With only four years of experience before promotion you are going to be left with the ridiculous situation where a graduate inspector at the scene of a major incident will be asking seasoned sergeants with years of experience what to do
For some reason these ludicrous scenarios are deemed acceptable for policing.
You have to feel for the thousands of officers who have grafted at the sharp end for years, gaining real experience and passing promotion exams. Many will now be left on the sidelines.
PoliceOracle.com told last year how 10,444 PCs and 3,778 sergeants in England and Wales had passed both OSPRE Parts I and II, or work-based assessment equivalents, but had not been substantively promoted.
This is because there have been no jobs for them to go to.
Now, from the sounds of it, whatever small amount of roles that do become available in these times of austerity will go to these new golden children.
Interestingly, take up for these new recruitment schemes has not been universal.
Only seven forces in England and Wales – plus the British Transport Police – are applying to bring in direct entry superintendents. There are meant to be 20 spots. As for fast track, only 26 of 44 forces are involved in the 80 places on offer.
That is not exactly a glowing endorsement from forces and police and crime commissioners for these plans.
But it is happening.
On September 29 – the day after National Police Memorial Day – successful fast track entry applicants will start work in their respective forces. On November 10 direct entry superintendents will follow them into the service.
They will all be police officers in uniform. They will be Servants of the Crown and sworn constables, with all that entails.
Many, many people will find this strange. Not to mention deeply unsettling.
But they are going to have to get used to it.
So yes, take a look around you – because in six months, the English and Welsh Police Service as you know it – as we all know it – is going to change forever.
From Police Oracle’s Royston Martis