THE CRIME FILE: Fast-track plan for top police slammed
MINISTER for Policing and Criminal Justice Damian Green has said it will bring in people from diverse backgrounds with new perspectives.
But recent Home Office proposals to allow people to join the police force without starting at constable level have not been accepted lightly by others.
Last week Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston described the theory as “dicing with death”, and now chairman of the Gwent Police Federation Jeff Mapps has also voiced his opposition to the plans, describing them as “madness” and something which could put lives at risk.
He said: “It is a completely harebrained idea. It is madness and will do little in increasing public confidence in policing.”
The new proposals announced last week would mean that people could join the police at inspector, superintendent or chief constable level without having any previous policing experience.
Under the plans, outsiders would be able to join the force as a superintendent after undergoing 15 months’ training and recruits could rise to the role of inspector after just three years under the fast-track scheme.
The new proposals could also see foreign police chiefs run British forces for the first time.
At the moment all recruits to the police have to start at the lowest rank and work their way up. This means new recruits have to serve at least 20 years before becoming a chief constable.
But in an independent review of police pay and conditions, Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor recommended allowing skilled applicants from outside policing to join at a senior level.
The Home Office has accepted his recommendations in principle and has launched a consultation to seek views on how it should be done.
But Mr Mapps said having experience of policing is something that is needed to carry out the senior roles with confidence.
He said: “I do not understand how you can be a superintendent leading hundreds of officers without the understanding of what police officers do. It’s just common sense.”
Mr Mapps said it takes “many years” for a new recruit to the police to work his or her way up the policing career ladder. This includes serving as a police constable for at least two years to ensure a person is confident in policing.
To reach more senior levels such as sergeant and inspector, promotion exams also have to be taken and again, the confidence of a person has to be ensured.
Mr Mapps said: “These things take time. You have to be confident as an inspector, superintendent or chief constable. I would guess that at the earliest it takes 15 years to become a superintendent. Very few individuals get through the process quicker than that.
“You have to have a wealth of experience with all sorts of matters.”
The Argus reported last Thursday that police commissioner Mr Johnston had said the proposals were “dicing with death”, something with which Mr Mapps also agrees.
Speaking about a person in a senior police role, he said: “If there was a critical firearms incident, he or she would rely on experience built up over many years and would need to make decisions based on that experience.
“In something like that people could lose their lives. There are no second chances.”
But Policing Minister Mr Green has said the proposals could bring a force which is “even better at fighting crime”.
He said: “This government wants to attract the very best candidates into policing, people who have the right skills and expertise to forge a force fit for the 21st century.
“By opening up the police to a wider pool of talent, forces will be able to bring in people with diverse backgrounds and new perspectives.
“Combined with the strong leaders already working in forces, and the improved nurturing of internal talent through the College of Policing, we will have a police force that is even better at fighting crime.”
The Home Office is currently carrying out a consultation on the proposals which considers four main objectives for the future of the police force. It asks contributors to consider how the proposals would make policing open and connected to the public, representative of the communities it serves, attract the brightest and the best candidates and have the right skills, expertise and professionalism.
The consultation document also asks contributors to consider the potential benefits of allowing direct entry to the police and fasttracking the best officers to senior management roles.
It states these benefits include widening the talent pool from which leaders can be selected and opening up the culture of the organisation.
The consultation document is available on www.homeoffice.gov.uk until March 28.