Posted: 11.07.19 at 09:16 by The Editor
Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Bill Skelly is taking legal action in a bid to delay the introduction of a new degree requirement recruitment scheme being imposed on the police service.
Mr Skelly opposes to the College of Policing's plans to implement a new recruitment process which requires all officers to have an academic degree or be prepared to commit to study for one in work time.
He says it will mean 40 fewer officers at any one time for front line policing in Lincolnshire - roughly 10 percent of his deployable strength - because the study time has been significantly increased compared to the current recruitment programme, increased turnover and failure to complete the course.
There will also be extra cash costs to pay for contracts with local academic providers and a requirement for more training staff within the force.
There is no estimate for the impact across England and Wales but it could easily be more than 4,000.
Mr Skelly wants to postpone the new scheme's implementation to 2023 to give time for 'a legitimate evaluation' and for the results to be assessed and any adjustments made.
“I have been raising these concerns with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for more than two years since the impact of Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) became clear,” says Mr Skelly.
“The college has pushed forward ignoring the growing evidence that demonstrates the impracticality of their proposals for Lincolnshire.
"Their most recent communication states the intention to change Police Regulations to enforce the PEQF recruitment process from next year."
Mr Skelly's exceptional legal move to seek a Judicial Review of the College of Policing scheme is fully supported by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, who is funding the court action.
“All I am asking for is a stay of implementation (to the summer of 2023) to give time for a legitimate evaluation of the new system being imposed across the country and for the results to be assessed and any adjustments made,” continues Mr Skelly.
“In the meantime we are developing an enhanced initial training package that meets the requirements of the modern police officer without creating an unaffordable impact on the police service in Lincolnshire.”
As well as the financial costs, Mr Skelly says that no assessment has been made of such issues as the additional strain on the Police Pension Scheme or impact on equalities.
He has also questioned the future of the Special Constabulary under PEQF.
“The college is requiring that every new police officer to be a degree holder and have undertaken years of initial training.
"At present, Special Constables have the same police powers as our regular officers but do so after a limited period of training and a lower required level of educational qualifications.
"I see this as unsustainable after the introduction of PEQF."
Mr Jones has also written to his PCC colleagues in England and Wales and many share his views on the introduction of PEQF.
Mr Jones says: “I was elected by the people of Lincolnshire to represent them and act in their best interests regarding policing and crime.
"Put simply, if I did not challenge the imposition of these untested and far-reaching changes that will see fewer officers on the streets of my county and the country as a whole, I would be failing in my duty.
"The public did not support a council tax rise earlier this year so we could put extra cops in classrooms and to have fewer than ever fighting crime and protecting communities.
"I would have expected the college to present a single business case that includes a detailed academic rationale, full financial assessments, detailed equalities assessments and a full benefits realisation plan.
“Protecting the people of Lincolnshire is our number one priority and to do that we can not support a further loss of officer numbers to this ill-thought through scheme.
"We believe that losing around 40 officers from the front line without challenging the college would be unforgivable and the costs to the public both financially and in loss of service leave us with no choice.”