THE Police and Crime Commissioner of West Midlands Police has condemned Government plans to “fast track” new officers into senior roles as “immensely damaging to the traditions of British policing”.

Ministers have announced plans to let new entrants into the police force start out as superintendents or chief constables without rising up through the ranks.

They said the change would help encourage talented people into policing - and make it easier to ensure ethnic minorities and women had a fair chance of claiming top jobs in police forces.

But the announcement was immediately condemned by Bob Jones, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones with Chief Constable Chris Sims
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones with Chief Constable Chris Sims
 

He warned that newcomers to policing simply wouldn’t have the skills and experience needed to take on management roles, even if they’d already been successful in other careers.

Mr Jones said: “Police officers need experience and credibility and there are no shortcuts to this.”

He added: “We wouldn’t expect someone to retrain as a surgeon in 18 months, and patients would rightly be uncertain too.

“Similarly, we wouldn’t expect someone to enter the army as a colonel and take command of a battle group with just 18 months’ training, and the soldiers under that person’s command would be concerned also.

“A direct entry officer is unlikely to have the experience and credibility necessary to order their officers into dangerous and life-threatening situations.”

And he vowed to resist any attempt to force the new system on to forces, saying: “I will fiercely oppose being forced to adopt a procedure which I think is immensely damaging to the traditions of British policing.”

Mr Jones also hit out at Government suggestions that Chief Constables could be recruited from overseas.

He said: “Recruitment of chief constables from overseas has significant potential pitfalls. In particular, 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.”

The changes were announced in Parliament followed a public consultation, It will now be for the College of Policing to design the new direct entry schemes, with the first of the new cohort expected to join next year.

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.

“There are many good, bright and enthusiastic people in the police. This reform will make sure even more of the brightest and best join in the future.”