Lincolnshire Police seeks judicial review over police degree plan

Police recruits
Image caption The College of Policing said the changes would prepare recruits for the complexity of the job

A chief constable is taking legal action against plans to require all new police officers to be educated to degree level.

From 2020, the College of Policing said prospective officers would either have to complete a degree or be prepared to study for one in work time.

Lincolnshire Police's chief Bill Skelly said it would mean 40 fewer officers at any one time for front-line policing.

The College of Policing said it was working with the force on the policy.

Backed by the force's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Lincolnshire Police said it was seeking a judicial review over the plans.

The force said it believed it was the first to take action and was in the "first stage of a legal challenge".

Image caption Chief Constable Bill Skelly said there would be staffing and financial implications for the force

Mr Skelly said under the new plans there would be an increase in study time compared to the current recruitment programme, which would mean around 10% fewer front-line officers for the force.

"The college has pushed forward ignoring the growing evidence that demonstrates the impracticality of their proposals for Lincolnshire," he said.

"Ten per cent of our response strength will be removed from the street and that's devastating enough.

"Across the whole country you can imagine it will have a massive impact."

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The force said the changes would also have a financial implication, meaning it would cost them £100,000 more to train recruits.

Mr Skelly said he was seeking a "stay of implementation to the summer of 2023" to give time for an evaluation of the new system.

Marc Jacobs, Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner, said: "The public did not support a council tax rise earlier this year so we could put extra cops in classrooms and to have fewer than ever fighting crime and protecting communities."

The commissioner said he had written to his PCC colleagues across England and Wales and that many of them shared his views about the policy.

The College of Policing's deputy chief constable Bernie O'Reilly said he was aware of the potential legal challenge.

He added: "The training for new recruits seeks to prepare those entering the service for the complexity of the job and has been developed with colleagues from across policing."

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