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Fast track inspectors: Concerns raised over lack of experience

generic images of a police officers uniform, 6-5-2006Frontline officers have warned that a new breed of police service inspector – that can fast track up the ranks in just three years – will struggle to gain the respect of the cops they will be commanding.

At the end of September, 43 PCs across England and Wales with “leadership potential” will begin their fast track training that will see them completing their promotion to sergeant and inspector in just three years.

There will be two in West Yorkshire.

However, the move has been met with opposition – with the Police Federation of England and Wales saying it is against the scheme.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “We are not convinced that the officers will be up to speed in the given three year timescale. We have more than enough qualified and quality sergeants – waiting to become inspectors – and we should be looking to promote these individuals in the first instance.

“It is demoralising for those officers.”

Mr Smart added that once in the inspector post, the fast track officers will be “relying heavily on sergeants to get them through operational situations.”

The fast track scheme is being run by the College of Policing.

Eight of the 26 forces involved had none of their candidates accepted onto the scheme. All of those put forward by Cheshire, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, North Wales, Northumbria, South Wales and West Mercia failed to make the grade.

The Met has the largest number of successful candidates with 20, while both Greater Manchester and Avon and Somerset had four each.

West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Hertfordshire all had two, while Bedfordshire, the British Transport Police, Kent, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Sussex and Thames Valley had one potential inspector pass.

The 43 successful officers will undergo a rotation, spending a year in each rank and shadowing those officers that they will eventually command after three years as they qualify as £47,000 a year temporary inspector.

The move has been met with opposition from the rank and file.

A constable from Greater Manchester Police said he would not respect the authority of a fast-track inspector: “I won’t be going to some inspector with two minutes in the job for advice or authority.”

One sergeant from Cumbria said: “The powers that be need to understand grass roots experience counts with officers across the rank and file. Knowing what you’re talking about can win hearts and minds meaning often tasks are more successful.”

An inspector from West Yorkshire Police added: “It’s a ridiculous idea. We already have police staff managers through the structure up to and including Chief Officer level. If you don’t need policing experience to do the job, it should be a staff post. Having people with no policing experience doing a job that requires it is ludicrous.”

Julia Lawrence, from the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the organisation is “doing everything within its power to assist with the development of the fast track scheme.”

She added: “Although we are not in favour of the scheme, we are mindful that the scheme’s candidates will become federation members upon appointment, and pragmatically we must help shape this scheme, as it will be a demanding and intensive three year programme, and candidates will need support from us to get through it.

Mrs Lawrence added: “We’ll be working with the College of Policing to make sure the trainers, tutors and mentors also receive support and training to play their part within the programme.”

“Make no mistake – this has been – and will be, a very challenging journey but the federation will not cease to represent all of its members involved in the process every step of the way.”

Ch Supt Nicola Dale, who leads the fast track programme for the College of Policing, said: “There is bound to be people that are not happy with it and will see it as leapfrogging which is why we are opening it to constables – the internal talent.

“There are several cultural issues that we have to be mindful of. However, I would like to think that most people would be professional. It is important that we communicate what happens and that these entrants have already been through a rigorous assessment process.”

Date posted: August 14, 2014

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