Sussex Police Federation criticises degree plans

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The Sussex Police Federation has criticised plans from the College of Policing, which could require all new officers to have a university degree.

Currently there is no minimum education requirement to become a police officer but the college say the job is now of a “degree-level complexity”.

The college says modern police officers have to deal with a range of complicated offences – including cyber crime and sexual exploitation – and similar professions such as nursing or probation work require entrants to be graduates.

But the Police Federation, which represents serving officers, says the changes would make the police less representative and prevent talented officers from serving in the police.

Matt Webb, Chairman of the Sussex Police Federation, said, “It is important that the police service reflects society. This has been recognised for some time and a great deal of work continues to take place to try to make us as reflective as possible.

“Less than 50 per cent of our population attain degree level qualifications and therefore for us to only accept graduates into the service would actually make us less reflective in this area.

“Over my 25-year career I have worked with many individuals. Some of the best police officers I have worked with had relatively low educational qualifications, but they were really good on the streets and were known ‘thief takers’.

“There is a place for graduates within the service, but to fail to recognise and value the work done by officers who do not have a degree level education would set us back rather than prepare us for the future.

“To think that you have to have that level of education says far more about the author of the report than the potential recruits it seeks to exclude.”

But the college say the number of people with degrees has more than doubled in the past 20 years and only 10 per cent of the working population between 25 and 34 have no qualifications.

If the plans were to go ahead, the college says, police forces would be likely to require practical policing degrees.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, who is Chief Executive of the college, said, “The College of Policing is working to develop an education qualifications framework which will recognise the complexity of the job through formal qualifications.

“Feedback from our membership has indicated there is a desire for externally recognised and transferable qualifications.

“Our proposal aims to recognise the level at which officers and staff currently operate and how the service will need to operate in the future.

“There is no suggestion that current officers or staff will be required to get a degree unless they wish to, and an educational qualification is not there to replace the empathy, compassion and common sense required to work in policing.

“Many officers and staff already work at graduate level without being recognised and we want to address this anomaly.”

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