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West Midlands Police Commissioner ‘fiercely opposes’ any changes that ‘damage traditions of policing’

West Midlands Police Commissioner ‘fiercely opposes’ any changes that ‘damage traditions of policing’

🕔14.Oct 2013

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has described plans to allow direct entry into the highest ranks of policing as “ill-conceived” and unable to “facilitate improvements to the service.”

The government proposals for changes to the recruitment of senior police posts would effectively break with 180 years of policing tradition.

For the first time in British history, external applicants will be able to apply for the rank of superintendent. This would end the precedent of superintendents, who hold significant operational and strategic responsibility, being required to have held the office of constable.

Similarly, under the new guidelines, any foreign citizen who is deemed to be qualified to command a British force will also be allowed to apply for the position of chief constable. Previously, Home Office rules dictated that only British citizens could apply for the post.

A third scheme will also provide a ‘fast-track’ program for graduates taking them from constable to inspector in three years.

Announcing the changes, policing minister Damian Green said: “Our reforms are building a police force fit for the future, one which can continue driving down crime. Introducing direct entry to policing will bring new ideas and a fresh approach to senior levels of the force.”

But in a lengthy statement Commissioner Jones fiercely opposes “being forced to adopt a procedure which I think is immensely damaging to the traditions of British policing”.

On the question of direct entry to superintendent, Bob Jones stated such an officer is “unlikely to have the experience and credibility necessary to order their officers into dangerous and life-threatening situations.”

Jones was also critical of foreign recruitment to chief constable level. In 2011, David Cameron attempted to hire Mr Bill Bratton, former New York police chief, to run the Metropolitan Police, but was blocked by the Home Office. Mr Jones suggested in such instances there were significant pitfalls in recruiting outside applicants to the position of chief constable due to the cultural differences, stating:

We have to be absolutely sure that their experience is comparable because policing, law and culture may be so different as to make the proposition unworkable.

But Jones did concede some of the proposals may bring about improvements, describing fast tracking as an “effective means of getting high calibre individuals into leadership roles more quickly without compromising on experience”, and in certain instances, such as economic crime, outside experience could be useful.

However, Jones’ overriding message was that local demand and discretion should take precedence in relation to any recruitment to the service:

The requirements of policing differ across the country and PCCs and chief constables need to be enabled to respond according to the need in their area.  There should be local choice on whether to implement the proposals and on how best to select and develop officers to meet local need.

Click here for the full statement.

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