Training the police

Three ideas being put forward:

Three models for a national scheme are being studied. One is operated by Lancashire police, in which those wanting to join the force first have to attend a university offering a two-year course. This teaches recruits law and policing in diverse communities. During the course, students work as special constables. Only after completing it can they apply to become full police constables.

No, don\’t like that one at all. For two reasons. The first being that clearly it requires a two year, unpaid, training period. The second is that it\’s the start of requiring graduate entry. And as I\’ve mentioned before, one of the reasons why there are so many more \”professionals\” in public service is because there\’s been a decades long attempt to define as \”professions\” those things done in the public sector.  The current definition of \”professional\” of course being that you need a degree to do it: like we now have with nursing.

Scotland Yard is proposing to introduce a scheme that was passed by its watchdog last week. Potential recruits would have to work for up to a year as special constables before being allowed to apply to Britain\’s largest force.

This one has its problems, for sure.

In London, Labour is opposing the Metropolitan police scheme. Joanne McCartney, a Labour member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: \”If the Met can get this through, then other forces will follow suit. It\’s unfair and will disadvantage anyone with caring responsibilities, anyone already in work, and anyone who can\’t afford to work unpaid for a year or more.

\”We know this is a financially driven decision and not one taken in the best long-term interests of the Met. Specials are an invaluable asset, but they are an addition to full-time officers. They do not offer the same resilience as they can\’t be compelled to work, and nor should they.\”

But that rather misses what specials actually do. In the Met they commit to working 16 hours a month. In return you get an all system travel card worth some £260 a month. (Might only be zones 1-6, worth £190, not sure). This, even at that lower level, comes out at over £11 an hour for not watching telly.

For the Met, and those who wish to join it, this seems like a pretty good deal. Not entirely convinced about other police forces, which don\’t have the same transport systems nor in fact the same general population mobility.

The third model is that operated by Surrey police, which sees recruits pay £700 for training. Mark Rowley, chief constable of Surrey police, said it does more than save money: \”We are getting better recruits, because they have committed their own time to learning and progressing further their career in the police.\”

That one sounds pretty good actually.

10 thoughts on “Training the police”

  1. View from the Solent

    You criticise the first model for being 2 years of unpaid training. Yet you are in favour of the third, which costs the trainee money.
    Is this logical, captain?

    Tim adds: Two year’s unpaid training is an opportunity cost of £40k. As against £700? Yup, sounds good to me.

  2. “Mark Rowley, chief constable of Surrey police, said it does more than save money: “We are getting better recruits, because they have committed their own time to learning and progressing further their career in the police.”…”

    Possibly, Mark, possibly.

    And maybe you just get the people who would happily pay £700 for the chance to swagger around and give orders to the people that pay their wages…

  3. I worked for the Police a few years back (as civilian staff). Police officers got free travel on all TfL and rail up to 50 miles outside of London. I would have though specials would have had the same, so it may be a bigger benifit than £260.

  4. Oh, and another thing.
    Police forces have a problem with the numbers that leave within the probationary period (I’ve know a few froiends that this has happened to). So working as a special for a bit first might reduce this.
    Not so sure about the £700 idea.

  5. John B/Julia M:

    Firstly, we either have police or we don’t. In which case, what’s your point?

    Secondly, they also ‘pay their wages’, whereas quite a few of the people they spend their time working with and for don’t pay anything.

  6. Indeed.

    I’d much rather we had coppers who were in it for the money (in the same way that accountants, lawyers, and more or less anyone well-paid outside meeja is in it for the money) than those who were in it for the love of being coppers, because IMX the latter tend to be officious arseholes, and that’s a trait that’s been encouraged over recent years.

    If I were PM, I’d raise police wages so that competent people who aren’t on power trips would want to apply; I’d bring in tough psychometric tests so that swaggering bullies don’t get in in the first place; and I’d introduce the kind of appraisals you get in real professions where the poorest-performing 10% get booted out every year.

  7. How about this panel beaten version of Option 3 ?

    Trainees pay 700 sovs to go on training course. If they pass and then serve satisfactorily for a defined period, the money is paid back to them.

    This keeps the advantages fo commitment but hopefully overcomes the objections of those who say paying to get a job is wrong. By delaying repayment until some time after graduation it will also hopefully reduce the number of early leavers.

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