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From 2020 all new police officers in England and Wales will be trained to degree level to address changes in crime-fighting and to help modernise the service. At present nearly four in 10 new recruits have a degree or postgraduate qualification when entering the police force. 

The qualifications will take the form of a degree apprenticeship, with recruits taking up a training post with one of the 43 forces and studying for their degree while working part-time. 

It is thought that they will spend approximately a fifth of their time in the classroom over three years, while they will also be paid between £21,000 to £23,000 during their apprenticeship.

The syllabus is likely to cover the law, safeguarding the vulnerable, understanding how an officer behaves on the street and how an officer builds trust by interacting well with communities.

Alternatively, would-be officers can pursue a self-funded policing degree at a university, or join a police-funded six-month graduate programme.

As Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing notes, the move has come as “policing is more complex and difficult than it used to be and police need better training and education than they have had up until now.” Additionally, policing is falling behind in its investment in training and development as people in other professions, such as medicine or the military, and this is one of the measures the College of Policing is trying to address this issue. 

The professionalisation of policing has been a much-discussed topic in government in recent years with the popular view that policing has to professionalise and that pay should match skills rather than time served.

Although police offers currently don’t need a degree to enter the profession, terms and conditions are traditionally better than other public sector jobs, with social standing and secure employment.

Furthermore, the nature of policing is changing, with a focus of tackling internet crimes and crimes of vulnerability such as hidden sexual abuse. These require different skills and expertise.

Under these changes, officers applying for the rank of of assistant chief constable or higher will also need a master’s degree.

Currently, recruitment requirements vary from force to force, with some insisting that applicants have A-levels or a certificate in policing and others demanding experience in a policing role.

The announcement follows a two-month public consultation which received more than 3,000 responses. Almost 80% of the responses were from police officers, with the majority keen to gain accreditation for their existing skills. 

Other changes the consultation has brought about include the introduction of a higher-paid "advanced practitioner" position to try to retain people working in specialist areas, such as cyber crime, and deter them from seeking promotion in a different area.

In other news

The University of Bristol has announced that it will accept lower exam grades from disadvantaged local pupils and applicants from schools with poor A-level results in order to drive social mobility and attract a wider range of students.

Primary school standardised tests results for 11-year-olds have been published today and many schools have seen their league table positions upended as a result of tough new exams implemented last summer. Parents are being urged to ignore newly published school league tables, with only 53% of pupils passing, compared to 80% who passed less rigorous tests in 2015.