West Yorkshire Police set for degree course recruits
A police force is to recruit 300 new officers who will be put through a degree course on their training.
West Yorkshire Police had 5,854 serving officers in 2009 and it currently has 5,214 officers on its books.
The force said its first batch of recruits for the degree course would start their training in April 2020.
Brian Booth, the chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation which represents officers, said the force was still 600 short of previous levels.
Police said the recruits would be trained and mentored by experienced officers at the force's Learning and Development Centre and academics from Leeds Trinity University.
Those selected will be expected to complete a three-year Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and will be paid officers "from day one".
The force will also meet the students' university fees.
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Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: "We want everyone living in West Yorkshire to feel their force represents them and we are striving to better represent all of our communities, so we welcome applicants from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
"That being said, the job will always go to the right candidate and will be based on merit.
"Being a police officer really is a job like no other and our Police Constable Degree Apprenticeships will prepare and train officers to deal with evolving serious and complex crime."
Mr Booth said: "It's excellent news that more officers are joining the service.
"But we have grave concerns over whether a degree course is appropriate in our modern society.
"I know loads of good coppers who are not academic - academia is not the only option."
Mr Booth said that while the police precept on council tax bills had gone up, the force was still "600 short since 2009".