Call to centralise police recruitment in bid to tackle inconsistencies


Police recruitment should be centralised in order to tackle inconsistencies across the service, according to a new report.

Under the current system applicants apply to individual forces in England and Wales.

While some may collaborate on recruitment, in general they each set their own recruitment process and selection policy - with entry requirements varying from one constabulary to another.

There must be a standard recruitment process with standard entry requirements for someone wishing to become a police officer in England and Wales, the Commons Home Affairs committee said.

Its report said: "If there is to be proper consistency in policing then this should start with the first contact between an applicant and the police.Setting standards which 43 individual forces then follow as they choose is inefficient, confusing and breeds inconsistency."

Recruitment should be centralised and overseen by an expanded College of Policing, the committee recommended.

It also said the problem of "inconsistent practice" in the training of new recruits must be resolved.

An example of "unnecessary duplication" given to the committee suggested an officer who might be trained in driving a traffic car or response car in one part of the country would "have to start all over again from scratch" when they transferred to another force.

Although a single training college would address many of the issues identified, the committee recognised the challenges involved in creating such a facility. Instead, it called for the Government to consider introducing a number of regional hubs.

The report also raised concerns about variations in approach to a code of ethics rolled out in 2014.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said: "The College of Policing continues to be a vital part of the new landscape of policing. However, there is an alarming lack of consistency across police forces, and the College of Policing faces significant challenges in implementing a national approach to raise standards.

"A police officer in Leicestershire should be judged by the same criteria as one based in Suffolk. There should be no 'postcode lottery' in how we are policed."

Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College, said: "It is encouraging to see the committee acknowledge the efforts put into providing those working in policing with the skills and knowledge necessary to prevent crime, protect the public, and secure public trust.

"We are looking at ways to address inconsistencies including the establishment of a system of accreditation for high risk areas of policing to ensure the public get the same level of service from police regardless of where they live."

Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said chief constables are committed to working with the College to improve standards in policing.

Meanwhile, the committee also accused the Foreign Office of refusing to provide details of the College's contracts for providing assistance and training to overseas regimes.

Human rights groups have previously raised questions about arrangements under which Saudi Arabian officers were given training.

Mr Marshall said the College is "committed to transparency" and "keen to help the public understand our international work as much as possible".

He went on: "Details of the countries we have provided assistance to, the areas of policing covered, and the amounts paid by all regions are published on our website. Our approach to releasing this information was supported by the Information Commissioner's Office."

A Government spokeswoman said it will carefully consider the committee's findings.

She said the creation of the independent College of Policing "has been an important pillar in our programme of police reform".

The spokeswoman added: "Given the high level of skill and expertise across British policing, it is not surprising that there is an international appetite to learn from the best.

"We cannot stand by and criticise countries from the sidelines if we want to see wholesale changes, and the Government's policing programmes in Saudi Arabia, led by the College of Policing, are specifically designed to improve the justice system by improving human rights compliance and reducing the likelihood of miscarriages of justice."