Police of the future must have degrees, says study

all new police officers will have to be educated to degree level in future under sweeping changes to recruitment.

A paid three-year “degree apprenticeship” is among three options open to people wanting to join one of the 43 forces in England and Wales under changes unveiled by the College of Policing.

Would-be police officers can alternatively do an unfunded degree in policing or a funded postgraduate conversion course if they already have a degree in a different discipline, the professional body said.

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Chief Constable Alex Marshall, the college’s chief executive, said the changes would ensure forces were better placed to address changes to crime-fighting.

He said: “At the moment, it is very lopsided and we don’t do a lot of professional development in policing. If you compare it to medicine or the military (where) there is massive investment in training and development, in policing there is a tiny investment.

“The nature of police work is getting quite complex and it is quite contentious and the public expectation is that you’ll be patrolling in my street, and by the way you’ll (also) be patrolling online.

“We don’t think the investment has been made in policing in terms of professional development and this is one of the ways that we start to address that.”

Mr Marshall said the college would use its powers to force through the changes, which would mean “the public should receive the same level of service regardless of where they live”. The current recruitment system varies from force to force.

The apprenticeship, due to be introduced next year, will see recruits undertake a three-year course, while receiving a salary and having the university academic component funded by their respective force. The postgraduate conversion course would last six months and would also be funded by police. In contrast, the policing degree would have to be self-funded and the student would still have to successfully apply to become a police officer after completing it.

Mr Marshall said the college was in discussions with 12 universities about the new system.