Chief officers will be able to easily dispense with direct entry superintendents within their 18-month probation period if they do not meet strict standards under proposed changes to the Police Regulations.
The College of Policing is proposing to extend Regulations 12 and 13 – which set out the probation terms for constables when they first join the service – to direct entrants at senior level.
The provision stipulates that during their probation period, a chief officer can dispense with the officer’s service if they are not “fitted, physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or that they are not likely to become an efficient or well conducted constable”.
It is expected that proposals to extend the legislation will be put before the Police Arbitration Tribunal in May.
Unlike constables, direct entry superintendents’ probation period will last for 18 months, during which time they will be subject to condensed “on the job” experience of every rank up to superintendent.
During this time they will be subject to various work-based and knowledge-based assessments. If they do not fulfil certain requirements, chief officers can use provisions within the Regulations to remove them from the training package and entry to the service.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Superintendent Nicola Dale, part of the team responsible for devising the training programme, said that the success of the scheme will be based on the calibre of candidates going through the process.
She said: “This is a blank sheet of paper to work on. It is an exciting opportunity to do something completely different. This is 21st century thinking.
“Traditionally people have come through the Police Service and gone up through the ranks.
“We can bring some whole new ways of thinking and innovation.”
Initially, candidates will complete basic training in the powers and requirements of a PC before being placed on a rota schedule with experienced PCs. They will then complete a raft of assessments and exams.
This training pattern will be replicated for the rank of sergeant and inspector up to superintendent level.
Eight forces have signed up to the programme and will take the first cohort of 20 candidates following a selection process based on two separate assessments.
Recruitment opens on April 7 and when it closes, candidates will need to attend a two-day assessment in July.
This will evaluate their potential to perform competently in the rank of superintendent following the training programme, the potential and motivation to reach the chief officer ranks during service and their ability to bring new ways of thinking to the service.
They will complete job simulation exercises, a competency-based interview, a presentation and tests of their cognitive ability.
Those who are selected to join the training programme will start within their respective forces on November 10. They will be provided with mentors, personal development plans, leadership coaching and media training.
Supt Dale believes that established officers could enhance their chances for promotion if they embrace and learn from the diverse skillset that each direct entry candidate brings.
She added: “We are mindful that there are people who see this as a threat but there is plenty of room for the direct entry superintendents without impacting on promotions internally.
“The problems with promotions have always been there and none of the forces want to close the door for their internal cohort.
“If anything it will make more competition. If officers embrace it and can see it as an opportunity to learn from outside ideas it can also benefit them too.
“The perception is very clear – we are closed and insular. We need to be more transparent and get new innovation in. I believe this is a sea change in how police officers will be recruited in the future.
“It will be the norm soon – as an alternative avenue to the other traditional routes.
“Superintendents have worked hard to get to this rank but these people will also have worked hard in a different working sphere. This is not an opportunity for graduates who have just got out of university.”
In addition, the College has also launched its graduate-fast track programme, which will promote up to 82 candidates from the rank of constable to inspector in three years.
The new approach was endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron. He said: “It is vital that police forces reflect the hard-working communities which they serve. Schemes like these will enable talented and experienced people from a range of backgrounds to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to policing.
“We have already slashed red tape and cut bureaucratic targets, this is about opening up policing culture by making the workforce more diverse. I want to see all forces in England and Wales rolling out these schemes.”