Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has added her voice to criticism of a new non-degree officer entry route amid fears it could hit recruitment and training standards.
Liz said the proposals for a Level 5 learning programme – equivalent to a diploma of higher education (DipHE) – would create a two-tier entry system alongside the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEFQ) routes, which have been assessed as Level 6.
There are also concerns it could impact members’ future career opportunities and pay.
Now Liz has called on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing to revisit the plans and ensure non-degree entry would still be accredited to educational Level 6.
Failure to do so, she said, would be against the founding principles of the PEQF
Liz said: “While I agree the old Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) no longer met the needs of a modern police service, a two-tier entry system is not the answer to replace it.
“I welcome a non-degree entry route into policing, but it needs to be assessed as Level 6 to ensure that standards of police constables are the same across the board.
“Creating a two-tier system risks reducing recruitment and training standards at a time when they have been under the spotlight like never before and we should be doing everything we can to raise them.
“This is why I’m calling on the NPCC and the college to revisit these proposals to ensure that entry standards are maintained and even raised, but certainly not diluted.”
The new Level 5 (non-accredited) learning programme is being made available for forces as soon as possible but not later than 1 April 2024.
A number of forces are yet to engage with education partners about the impact of new standards and learning on existing Level 6 contractual obligations and await the College of Policing’s further implementation guidance and the design of associated curricula.
The Police Federation for England Wales said it was awaiting the equality impact assessment of the decision to introduce the non-degree entry route supporting Level 5 qualification but, in the meantime, urged the NPCC and the college to ensure any change in the policy ensures that the standards defining competence in the police constable role remain the same irrespective of the entry routes.
Police Federation national board member and professional development lead Paul Matthews also opposes the plans.
He said: “When the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, announced her plans for a new entry route last November, she did not envisage any reduction in the current learning standards.
“In fact, she stated that any new entry route would ‘deliver officers of the highest calibre, which would complement the existing framework’.
“This proposed fourth route does not deliver what the Home Secretary stated. Instead, it opens the door for some officers to be trained to a lower standard than others.”