Tom Winsor tells a policing conference that if professionalism and the recruitment system are improved, officers can consider their profession among the elite.
Policing has been regarded for “far too long” by many members of the public as an undemanding job for blue-collar workers who clock in and clock out, Tom Winsor told a major policy conference.
He said that instead the Police Service should be reformed so that “men and women of intelligence and character” considered a potential policing career on a par with highly respected jobs – such as those in Law and Medicine.
He said: “If it (the Police Service) becomes the profession it should, they (officers) should come to think of themselves as the practitioners of a profession distinctly above that of factory workers.”
Addressing Policing 2012 in London yesterday (June 12) Mr Winsor said it was right that the service tried to attract the “brightest and best” in society as the job became more demanding and complex.
He also denied claims that proposals in his second report into Police pay and conditions, such as direct and accelerated entry, would lead to more people leaving the Service.
Mr Winsor said modern policing was entirely different from the system upon which it was currently based and that change in its ethos was needed. It was last reformed more than 30 years ago in 1978, he said.
He said the only criterion for “entry and advancement” into the Police Service was merit – and that his proposals for performance based promotion and pay addressed this.
He said: “The demands society makes of police officers require men and women of the highest calibre, integrity and judgement.”
In an unexpectedly direct speech, Mr Winsor, who has recently been named as the Home Secretary’s preferred candidate to be the next HMIC Chief, appeared to defend his reports strongly.
He told the conference of the “strong resentment” felt by many officers of the current system where there was “equal pay for unequal work”. Placing an emphasis on the importance of “intellectual ability”, he said the best officers should be rewarded the most, as documented in Winsor II.
He said: “The greatest asset of a Police Service is its people – those assets need to be nurtured and developed.”
A woman from the floor asked Mr Winsor how the Police Service could possibly maintain a diverse workforce with a proposal such as direct entry to the inspector or superintendent ranks.
But he maintained he was “opening the door” to people who otherwise would not have joined the Police Service – for fear of suffering discrimination.
Facing further claims that “droves” of people were considering leaving the Service due to his proposals, Mr Winsor said: “I think the evidence of that is yet to be established. The fact is there are many tens of thousands of people who want to join the Police Service. “In one of the Yorkshire forces they got several thousand applications for 60 jobs. Many of those who applied would not be suitable for the Police Service …but many want to join.”
He had began his speech by saying that proposals in Winsor II, which would be phased in over years to come if approved, would save an estimated £1.9 billion over six years – with £1.2 billion being reinvested into policing.