New police officers may need a 'degree in policing' to join the ranks in the future

'We also want people to think critically and do complex problem solving'

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The Independent Online

All new police officers may be required to have a degree in the future, under proposals put forward by the College of Policing.

The college is consulting on the plans, which could be rolled out by 2019.

There are currently no set educational requirements for would-be officers of any rank, with different forces operating their own policies.

But the new system would mean all new recruits would have to complete a degree in policing or a conversion course after graduating in another subject.

Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing, said the change was necessary due to the “enormous change” in the nature of police work.

“In addition to all of the qualities you need from people in policing - they need to be caring, good communicators, able to de-escalate difficult situations - we also want people to think critically and do complex problem solving,” he told the BBC.

He said the requirement of an educational qualification was “not there to replace the empathy, compassion and common sense required” to work in the police.

But, the body which represents rank-and-file officers described the plan as “barmy”.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “It is essential that we do not create a police service where the only chance of becoming a police officer is if you can afford to educate yourself to degree level before joining.

“It is also an insult to the vast number of officers without a degree who perform exceptionally complex and sensitive roles to suggest that someone else would be better purely by virtue of their having spent three years at university.

“Having a degree is no indication that someone is going to make a good police officer.”

The college said that there was no suggestion that current officers or staff would be required to obtain a degree unless they wish to.

Mr Marshall added that the proposal was “in the very early stages”.

He said: “Any entry level degree is likely to be a practical qualification, as seen in other professions, where students split their time between the classroom and a police force.

“We want to move the service into a position where it is prepared to meet the needs and challenges of the future and our aim is to give members access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”

France and Spain already require their police officers to have a full degree as the minimum entry at constable rank, with a master’s degree required for all those wanting to become inspectors. 

In Sweden and Norway, all police training is done through higher education with practical elements included for students to learn on the job while they study.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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