Direct entry “could risk public safety”, Fed warns

GOVERNMENT plans to introduce direct entry to the police service could put the public at risk, the Police Federation of England and Wales has warned.

Proposals to introduce direct entry to superintendent level, as well as a fast-track scheme to inspector level and the ability to recruit chief constables from overseas, have been announced by policing minister Damian Green.

Officers could reach inspector level within just three years while a superintendent could be recruited from outside the force with just 15 months’ training.

“Direct entry at senior ranks will make sure that there is access to the best pool of talent, those who have proven leadership and business skills and who can bring with them fresh thinking from other sectors,” said Mr Green

But the Police Federation for England and Wales has warned that the public could be put at risk if the proposals go ahead. Steve White, vice-chair of the Police Federation, said his fear was how someone without policing experience would tackle major incidents.

“You have to look at the risk to the public, at a superintendent level you could be overseeing a public order incident, football match or firearms situation – would you want a manager from a supermarket dealing with that?

“Until you have turned up to a domestic incident, had to deal with a road traffic accident and spoken to the family of someone who has died or been injured, you don’t know what it takes to be a cop.”

Derek Barnett, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, echoed the warning, saying allowing people to become superintendents after 15 months’ training would present “risks to the public and police officers”.

Mr Barnett added that one of the benefits of having an operational grounding is that “you have been able to deal with critical incidents, you have felt the collar of criminals, you have dealt with the very sad incidence of dead bodies”.

David Hanson, Labour’s shadow policing minister, welcomed fast-track promotions but said there must be “sufficient training” for officers.

“The Government needs to explain how they think only 15 months’ training for superintendents is sufficient. The public will be nervous about the idea that the borough commander in charge of hundreds of police officers, dealing with everything from riots to rapes to neighbourhood policing and community reassurance has only had 15 months’ training or experience,” he said.