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PC degree courses are a 'mistake in the making', federation warns

West Yorkshire announces plans to put 300 new recruits back in the classroom.

West Yorks Fed chairman Brian Booth: 300 new officers are

West Yorks Fed chairman Brian Booth: 300 new officers are

Date - 6th June 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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Policing has been warned not to close the door on “non-academic” officers as one of Britain’s biggest forces plans its first foray into training degree-educated recruits.

West Yorkshire is “really excited” at plans to bring in 300 student officers but rank and file fear the move could be a “mistake in the making”.

The trainees – starting at the bottom but paid from day one with all university fees being met by the force – will complete a three-year Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship.

They will be mentored by experienced police officers at West Yorkshire’s Learning and Development Centre at Carr Gate, Wakefield and by academics at Leeds Trinity University.

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said the new recruitment pathway gives budding officers the chance to “earn while they learn”, equip them with the skills needed to tackle increasingly sophisticated crime, while keeping in line with the national aim to make policing a recognised professional career.

The apprenticeship will allow new officers to West Yorkshire – the fourth largest force in England – to specialise as they move through the degree and they can look towards being a detective, in roads policing or a specialist working in a neighbourhood team.

She said: “I have been a police officer here in West Yorkshire for 28 years and I can honestly say I’ve loved every moment. It is a job like no other.”

But the ACC’s enthusiasm for the force’s recruitment ‘first’ was met with a critical response from West Yorkshire Police Federation.

Chairman Brian Booth said while the degree course does give the office of constable some kind of recognition academically and helps bolster its professional position in line with other vocations, it “comes with a health warning”.

He warned: "I have grave concerns that the only avenue into policing is to have some kind of degree.

"I have known plenty of good officers in my time who were not academic and to close the door on similar future candidates is a mistake in the making.

“Yes, it’s good to have 300 officers coming into West Yorkshire Police, but it has to be clear these are not an addition.”

The federation chairman said some of the posts are to replace natural turnover – like officers retiring or leaving the service for other reasons – and the new additions represented only the 600 officers lost since 2010. The force’s complement stands at just over 5,000 officers at present.

The force says it is reaching out to those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as part of the latest recruitment drive in a bid to better represent the communities it serves.

ACC Williams added:“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 as we recruit new officers.

“That being said, the job will always go to the right candidate and will be based on merit.”

The recruitment window will open in July and applicants can register their interest online.

The first trainee officers – with an £18,000 starting salary – will be appointed to the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship programme in April 2020.

A new Degree Holder Entry Programme will also open later this year to allow those who already hold a non-policing degree to complete a two-year learning programme to become a qualified officer.

West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “Policing is such a rewarding career and this is a really great opportunity for individuals to pursue a varied role while being trained and supported to gain a qualification at the same time.

“Continuing recruitment into the police service is crucial.”

Professor Margaret A House, vice-chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We have always been committed to transforming lives and benefitting our local community, so we are very proud to work with West Yorkshire Police on training the next cohort of police constables.

“We have developed a programme of policing that is relevant, inspiring and impactful, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the first cohort of police apprentices next year.”

In other parts of the policing, new recruits are heading back to the classroom to gain landmark qualifications as educational institutions bid to “further professionalise” the service.

Last month it was announced more than 2,000 student officers across a geographical area that covers a fifth of the UK will find themselves in the vanguard of joining a learning programme geared to meet the “challenging requirements faced on a daily basis”.

Chiefs see a defining era where newcomers join a “profession with a more representative workforce that will align the right skills, powers and experience” as the University of South Wales signs contracts to provide specialist education to new officers across five forces.

Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dyfed-Powys forces will have both the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and postgraduate Degree Holder Entry Programme delivered by specialists in USW’s policing and security department, in collaboration with force trainers.

The agreements will see a total of 2,214 officers from across the four South West forces start their study with the university, which, along with the existing partnership with the Welsh force, geographically represents around 20 per cent of Britain.

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