Police and Crime Commissioner backs calls to end degree requirement for new officers
Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has backed calls for the Home Secretary to lift the blanket requirement for all new police officers to commit to studying for a degree.
PCC Philip Wilkinson said Wiltshire Police face a perfect storm of recruiting officers but not actually being able to put them on the streets - and visibly fighting crime - as they are tied up in training or in classrooms for months on end.
His calls for the requirement to be lifted is in addition to 16 other Police and Crime Commissioners across the country who joined together to lobby for change and have written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
Mr Wilkinson, a former Army officer and government security specialist, said removing the measure for officers, unless they want to study for a degree, would mean recruitment could be sped up and open to a wider range of people - like serving specials or PCSOs.
"A more flexible approach to recruitment - allowing police forces to recruit new officers without them having a degree prior or committing to studying towards a degree while training - is needed, he said.
He added Wiltshire Police was also missing out on recruiting older, more experienced, staff from the military or other organisations as a result. “Policing already has one of the youngest, most inexperienced, workforces it has ever had,” he said. “Why are we making it more difficult for ourselves by having such a draconian approach to policing recruitment?
“There are plenty of excellent police officers – and many, many, successful Chief Constables - over the years who haven’t a degree but have received training, leadership skills and have earned their policing insight and experience on the job.
“With the blanket requirement of a studying for a degree or converting your existing one, we are missing out on that experience and expertise earned in other areas which could really have a positive impact on what we are trying to achieve in Wiltshire.”
Mr Wilkinson added: “Wiltshire is a small force – having to extract people from our frontline so they can sit in a classroom is nonsensical. We are having to recruit to fulfil our Uplift, recruit to replace leavers as well as trying to attract officers to our area too.
“If we are truly behind getting back to basics, then why can’t we use the more traditional training route we used to: 20 weeks training, out on the streets and learning on the job?
“We can always have police apprenticeships and policing degrees open to those who want it but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of our communities who want simply want more police, greater visibility and to feel safe when they walk down the street.”