SOUTH Yorkshire Police’s chief constable has questioned Government proposals to allow people with no crime-fighting experience direct entry to senior posts – but said he is willing to ‘bring in fresh blood’ to the force.
Under the current system, all police recruits begin work as a constable. However, under the Home Office plans, some new starters would be able to skip the compulsory two years on the beat.
Senior officers from overseas will be able to run police forces for the first time, outsiders can join as superintendents and recruits can be fast-tracked to inspectors.
The overhaul is part of a package of reforms put forward for consultation by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor, with police minister Damian Green claiming the service will benefit from a ‘wider talent pool’.
But Chief Constable David Crompton, head of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Every other force of note in the world is armed. Their officers tend to have a different attitude to using force than UK colleagues. Would the public really want one of their number in charge?
“We are unarmed, we are unique and people value this.
“Maybe a senior person from business would be an alternative, but if they were rung up at home and asked to make important decisions about serious criminal matters, would they know what to do? Even more critically, could they justify it in court?
“I have wonderful, dedicated and talented police staff who work tirelessly. They are in non-police roles, but are worth their weight in gold. I would not put them in operationally critical roles, because it wouldn’t be fair either to them or the community.
“However, over the last decade we have significantly expanded the number of roles available to non-police officers and I am more than willing to continue to push the boundaries to bring in fresh blood to the force so we introduce change and new ideas.”
The county’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, added: “I believe the current rank system prepares officers suitably in order to successfully progress their careers and provide a greater service to the public.
“The government continues to praise the British police service for being the best in the world, so I would question why there is a need to recruit senior officers from overseas.
“I am not averse to new ideas and fresh talent being recruited, but this should not undermine the office of constable.”
An entry scheme for inspectors would recruit about 80 candidates each year, targeting graduates from top universities and the ‘brightest and best’ from the police. A scheme for superintendent level would attract ‘exceptional’ people from other fields, including the military and industry.
Consultation on the plans closes on Thursday, March 28.
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