POLICE officers have nothing to fear from plans to allow senior ranks to be recruited from outside the service, says the county’s crime commissioner.
Police Minister Damian Green said the service would benefit from a wider talent pool as the plans were announced by the Home Office yesterday ahead of a consultation process.
The move follows the Winsor Review of police officer and staff renumeration and conditions, and would allow civilians to enter at superintendent level, new recruits can be fast-tracked to inspectors within three years and the chief constable role to be opened to applicants outside the UK, including the USA and Canada.
Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said rank-and-file officers looking to climb the hierarchy should not be worried by the latest possible reform.
Mr Macpherson, who was voted into the post in November, said he has every confidence in the current senior leadership at Wiltshire Police, having recently appointed Patrick Geenty as Chief Constable from a strong field.
Mr Macpherson said: “There is a surprisingly defensive reaction from some senior leaders in other areas. In my experience, senior officers secure promotion in competition with their colleagues.
“I do not think they have anything to fear from widening the pool of applicants.
“The initiative sends a message that the national police service is a modern work-force receptive to new ideas.
“I will be giving my feedback on the consultation and encourage other people to do so.”
The move is the latest in a series of reforms of the police service – and morale among rank-and-file officers is said to be at a low.
However, Wiltshire Police Federation chairman Mike White said while there was some merit to the proposal, the risks outweighed the benefits.
He said: “We are constantly being told by the Government and others that we have the best police service in the world, so the question is what are we doing so wrong that we need to change the way management is structured.
“There is a bit of a misconception that there is not already direct entry into the police service already. When I first started the director of finance was a police officer, as was the director of HR and the head of IT.
“These have all changed and these are senior people involved in strategic and tactical decision making.
“We also already have the accelerated promotion scheme as an option for those joining.
“The problem of course is we could get the failed manager from Comet or HMV coming in without any sense of the world they are entering.
“We work in a world some people don’t know exists and having that grounding and problem solving ability means they are better placed to become the senior leaders of the future.
“An operational superintendent could be called upon to command a riot or quite often handle firearms incidents and there’s more risk if somebody is not experienced.
“We recognise there are positives but we are just trying to identify the risks.”