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Degrees: Service will miss out

The service will miss out on a wide range of talented potential officers if it requires all new recruits to be educated to degree level, the Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation has said.

The College of Policing has announced plans for all new recruits to the service to have a degree.

But Nick Smart thinks officers who have the emotional intelligence to gain information from a wide range of people are far better suited to the job.

He said: “We support the idea of continuous professional development for officers upskilling but to mandate it to everybody who’s joining may exclude some talent out there who aren’t academically minded.

“We put a lot of stall and value by having the emotional intelligence in terms of their ability to speak to people, to be able to tease information out and make sound judgement calls based on those sort of life skills and experience rather than just be taught it from a book.

“Are we going to preclude people who are not overly academic but have other types of intelligence?”

Nick was also concerned that the cost of completing a degree would put off potential new recruits, saying “like any other student the cost of a policing degree is £27,000 and you’ll join with a starting salary of £19,000 – is that going to put people off?”

He also warned this idea could make the service become less representative of the public it serves.

He said: “The police are the public, the public are the police. Does everyone in the public hold a degree? No they don’t.

“If we are supposed to be representative of society we’ve surely got to take people who don’t have degree, who probably aren’t massively academically suited to learning but have this emotional intelligence and life skills, and the ability to be really good cops.

“They’re trying to teach experience from a book and you can’t do that. It’s alright learning about it but you’ve got to actually, physically, walk the walk not just talk the talk.

“We’re all for giving officers the chance to upskill but I would suggest that there’s a better way of doing it than mandating it to every new entrant.

“For those that want it, great. For those that don’t there’s an alternative path, and open it up to existing officers.”

Date posted: March 1, 2017

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