THE Government’s plan to parachute leading figures from other industries into senior policing positions has suffered a setback after none of the candidates who applied to Yorkshire’s biggest force were deemed to be good enough.
West Yorkshire Police received 47 applications from a wide range of backgrounds to join the force at Superintendent level as part of the national ‘direct entry’ scheme which aims to broaden the talent pool available to the police service across the country.
But the force has revealed that despite receiving a “high calibre of applicants, all demonstrating considerable success in their careers to date”, none will be approved for the position.
Human Resources director Hilary Sykes said: “Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify a candidate that met our rigorous high standard right across a full spectrum of competencies, so on this occasion we will not be progressing applications to the next level.
“This recruitment process in West Yorkshire is part of a national programme, which is still ongoing, and we may have the opportunity to consider more applicants arising from that. We will also welcome future interest in the next round of Direct Entry.”
Almost 900 applications had been made for 19 posts across the country, including 67 in North Yorkshire, which is recruiting two people to the positions. North Yorkshire Police has shortlisted eight applicants and has so far interviewed four.
The best applicants will be put through their paces at the College of Policing national assessment centre in late July and the cost of training, funded by the Government, is estimated by the Police Federation to be£180,000 per entrant.
North Yorkshire Police said its applicants “have come from a wide range of industries such as legal professionals, military, transport industry, academics, private business, building and construction, health and social care, local government, sales and marketing”.
When West Yorkshire Police’s involvement in the scheme was announced in March, chief constable Mark Gilmore described it as an “exciting new opportunity to try something different” to complement the skills already available.
Policing Minister Damian Green said at the time: “A combination of the strong leadership already in the force, and the improved nurturing of internal talent through the College of Policing, means that we will have a police force that is even better at fighting crime.”
But critics of the policy say it creates unnecessary risks by allowing recruits with no first-hand experience of policing to potentially take charge of major incidents.
There are approximately 800 superintendents in England and Wales who have operational responsibilities for local divisions and major investigations.
Plans to recruit superintendents from other industries first emerged in 2012 in a major and controversial report on modernising police working practices.
The new recruitment scheme for superintendents could eventually lead to the appointment of a chief constable who has never made an arrest, though their training would include shadowing constables.
Mike Stubbs of North Yorkshire’s Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has questioned whether the Home Office has its priorities right by spending millions on the recruitment and training of direct entry superintendents while cutting force budgets.
Irene Curtis, president of the Police Superintendents Association, said her organisation was working with the College of Policing to make sure training and recruitment was robust and of a high standard.
She said: “We always said it would something that would hard to get on and easy to fall off. In some ways it is not a huge surprise that people haven’t met the standard but it is also disappointing.
“It all about the quality, not about the numbers of people applying. In some ways I am pleased West Yorkshire has made the decision, and it must have been difficult, that no-one had made the standard. It is a huge job they would be taking on, they have got to be something special.”
College of Policing lead for direct entry, Chief Superintendent Nicola Dale, said: “The direct entry programme is challenging with a rigorous assessment framework which must be passed to succeed.
“Where candidates do not meet the entry criteria it is right for the force and the applicant that they are not taken further through the recruitment process.
“The College of Policing will continue to work with police forces taking part in the programme to help them attract talented leaders from outside the service and support them to make a difference to policing and the communities that we serve.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The future success of the police is dependent on attracting the best and brightest to careers in the force. Direct entry at superintendent level is a very demanding challenge.
“Forces have been working with the College of Policing to put in place a robust selection process to ensure that only those who can meet the high standards required are successful.
“It is right that forces only consider those who they are confident can complete the demanding training programme and go on to be excellent police leaders, bringing a fresh perspective and benefitting their colleagues and the public.”