Lincolnshire PCC wins battle to scrap degrees for new police officers

A decision to demand all new police officers complete a degree has been reversed by the Government – after a long campaign by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.

PCC Marc Jones has battled against the introduction of a degree-only entry in policing since it was announced in 2018.

All forces were supposed to have implemented the new training regime, called Policing Education Qualifications Framework, by this year. Under the new process officers complete a 50 per cent longer three-year probation as part of attaining a graduate-level qualification. This can be done by having a degree on entry or studying for it once recruited via a “police constable degree apprenticeship”.

But Mr Jones, supported by other PCCs, argued that Chief Constables should have the choice to recruit using a non degree route leading to more time on the front line and less time in the classroom.

In addition Mr Jones believes the new degree was, in some cases, preventing forces from recruiting ex-military officers who have already served as specials or PCSOs and older people looking for a career change - all of which are brimming with experience.

Now, following meetings with Mr Jones, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman has agreed – and allowed the existing non-degree entry process to continue.

In a speech to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chiefs' Council Partnership Summit 2022, she said: “The College of Policing has been working hard to raise the standards of initial entry and ensure officers are equipped to meet the challenges of policing today. And we know that to build public confidence, we must draw from the widest possible pool of talent across all sections of society. “To deliver this, forces must increase efforts to implement the new entry routes successfully. Whilst I have heard some good things about the new entry routes, such as better retention of officers who feel better equipped to do the job, I have also heard from many of you that there is a need for more flexibility to ensure broad access to a policing career.

“So, I have asked the College to build on their work by considering options for a new non-degree entry route, to deliver officers of the highest calibre, which will complement the existing framework. In the meantime, the current transitional non degree entry route will be kept open.

“Our police force must be open to those who do not have a degree or want one.”

Mr Jones welcomed the move and said it was a victory for common sense and for those wishing to serve their community but not attain a degree. “I welcome the Home Secretary’s decision and applaud her willingness to listen to the views and arguments from many PCCs around the country who agreed with me.

“It is laudable that the College of Policing seek ways to ensure new officers are equipped to meet the challenges required of modern forces and I’m confident this can be done without mandatory degree attainment..

“We need officers with the right skills, commitment and attitudes and the flexibility to put square pegs in square holes – a former military-trained recruit might be perfect for an armed response officer and might not need a degree and someone born oversees with language skills can add real value but neither should have to get a degree to serve the community as a police officer.”