Second-rate idea

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The met's plan to recruit an auxiliary police force on the cheap offers an intriguing way forward for tackling skill shortages elsewhere. The idea is to offer those who fail the London police force's entry tests the chance to be a second-tier police officer doing less onerous work for lower pay.

The met's plan to recruit an auxiliary police force on the cheap offers an intriguing way forward for tackling skill shortages elsewhere. The idea is to offer those who fail the London police force's entry tests the chance to be a second-tier police officer doing less onerous work for lower pay.

What next? Let failed medical students do the easy operations or let law-school rejects handle cases where the defendant is "obviously" guilty? Anyone who says this approach has already been tried out in the teaching profession, go to the back of the class and write out 100 times: those who can't, go on the beat.

Special constables, who are part-time volunteers, are a different matter, but this scheme is not a good idea. Good policing, like good teaching, depends critically on respect. The idea of security guards on patrol thinking they are police officers when everyone else knows they are failures is asking for trouble.

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