Police fast-track scheme to 'open up' top ranks

Newly-qualified police officers David Cameron said the scheme would enable talented and experienced people to bring a fresh approach to policing

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A move to fast-track external recruits into senior policing roles for the first time is about to come into force in England and Wales.

A second fast-track scheme for some graduate recruits will enable them to rise from constable to inspector in three years.

PM David Cameron said the move would make the police more open and diverse.

For 180 years the normal way to enter the police has been to join as a constable and rise up the ranks.

The rank of chief constable is to be opened up to applicants from overseas.

'Talented and experienced'

The College of Policing, the professional body for policing, announced the recruitment schemes and said they would bring in "people with more diverse backgrounds and new perspectives".

The direct entry programme is aimed at recruiting 20 "experienced leaders" from the private, public and charity sectors to join as superintendants, the college said.

There are approximately 800 superintendents in England and Wales. The officers have operational responsibilities for local divisions and major investigations.

Police recruits at the Hendon training camp

On the graduate scheme, some 82 recruits can expect to earn £47,000 after three years when they become an inspector.

"Schemes like these will enable talented and experienced people from a range of backgrounds to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to policing," Mr Cameron said.

"We have already slashed red tape and cut bureaucratic targets, this is about opening up policing culture by making the workforce more diverse."

He said he wanted every force in England and Wales to use the schemes.

Policing Minister Damian Green added: "This is the first time that chief constables will be able to recruit talented and motivated leaders from other walks of life, who can bring a wide range of experience and expertise."

'Not great'

The move was recommended by Tom Winsor in his review of police pay and conditions.

Gavin Thomas, vice president of the Police Superintendent's Association of England and Wales, said overall he was in support of the scheme as long it was managed correctly.

"I hope it will improve diversity among senior policing," he said.

"We were initially concerned about new candidates coming into the force without a grounding in operational policing.

"But I know the College of Policing are aware of those concerns and working hard to alleviate them, so we will have to see.

"Diversity among senior policing is not great at the moment, and this could be one of the ways of improving that."

But the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has previously insisted external candidates should not be able to enter the force above the level of constable.

Steve White, vice chairman of the federation, said: "We agree that the police service should be seeking to attract the brightest and best, however the current high potential development scheme should already identify those individuals and allow them to flourish.

"External candidates should not be able to join the service at any rank above that of constable; the current structure properly equips officers for the next stage in their career."

Applications are due to open in April or May with the first recruits from both schemes starting before the end of the year.

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