Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones has warned a new non-degree route into policing will compromise standards and could harm officers’ career opportunities.
Gareth is concerned the proposals will create a two-tier entry system and could impact the future pay and remuneration of officers taking the new route.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) last month gave its backing to a Level 5 non-accredited learning programme which would be equivalent to a diploma of higher education (DipHE).
However, Gareth has added his voice to the growing numbers urging the NPCC and the College of Policing to revisit the plans and ensure any new non-degree route would be accredited to educational Level 6.
Gareth said: “At a time when police recruitment and training is under the spotlight, I can’t understand why we’re talking about a new non-degree entry route that creates a two-tier system.
“I welcome a non-degree entry route. It makes police training that much more attractive and accessible for those who might be put off by the degree route.
“But what I can’t welcome is the undermining of standards when we need to be raising them to meet the changing demands on policing and restore public confidence.
“And then there’s the future impact on the officers who enter by this route who will be viewed as having been educated to a lower level. Will they have the same career opportunities? Will it present issues around pay and remuneration?
“This new programme needs to be revisited and put on a par with Level 6.”
Gareth’s call was echoed by Paul Matthews, Police Federation national board member and professional development lead.
He said: “When the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, announced her plans for a new entry route last November, she did not envisage any reduction in the current learning standards.
“In fact, she stated that any new entry route would ‘deliver officers of the highest calibre, which would complement the existing framework’.
“This proposed fourth route does not deliver what the Home Secretary stated. Instead, it opens the door for some officers to be trained to a lower standard than others.”
The new Level 5 (non-accredited) learning programme is being made available for forces as soon as possible, but not later than 1 April 2024.
A number of forces are yet to engage with education partners about the impact of new standards and learning on existing Level 6 contractual obligations and await the College of Policing’s further implementation guidance and the design of associated curricula.
The Police Federation for England Wales said it was awaiting the equality impact assessment of the decision to introduce the non-degree entry route supporting Level 5 qualification but, in the meantime, urged the NPCC and the college to ensure any change
in the policy ensures that the standards defining competence in the police constable role remain the same irrespective of the entry routes.