17 Year Old Recruits. Is This What Policing Needs?

There was an article in The Thunderer, and others, yesterday announcing that recruitment into the Police Service will be opened up to 17 year olds. This seems to have quite literally polarised the world of Social Media.

Personally I’m opposed to it. The main reason that I am opposed to it is one of Life Experience. I was 19 when I joined, and 20 by the time I first hot the mean streets of North West London. with the benefit of hindsight I’m not certain that I was adequately equipped. I had survived 16 weeks at Hendon, none of this Distance Learning, CBT Malarkey, then 2 full days per month local training until I had completed my first two years.

Do I think I was adequately prepared? No, but not because I hadn’t been sufficiently trained, but because I didn’t have sufficient life skills and experience to back it up. All the time I was paired up with a senior Constable all was well. The senior Constables and some of the Sergeants and Inspectors were brilliant, they also patrolled the streets, they knew what me and the (very few) other recruits needed and we were properly tutored and mentored. I get the distinct impression that would not be feasible today.

In the other corner is a group that I assume includes a number of serving officers who are ex military. They quite reasonably point out that we recruit 16 year olds into the military, train them, then send them off to foreign parts to fight and possibly die. That is absolutely correct and I can understand why it is used as an argument against me. The difference, in my view, is that they fight as a unit, under close supervision on the battlefield, and in company with soldiers, sailors, airmen, far more experienced than they are. Police Officers can find themselves either alone, or part of a team of only 2, who are faced with anything from a difficult domestic dispute to a rampant, machete-wielding murderer, at close quarters. Once again it’s just my opinion, and I accept that there will be contrary opinions out there.

Also lining up against me, unsurprisingly, is the Collage (sic) of Policing. They most definitely think it’s a good idea, but they would wouldn’t they, they have to help Boris reach his target of 20,000 extra officers. At 17 years old they can’t possibly be Graduates but I can see the attraction of the Apprenticeship root, hopefully leading to a degree but without the Student Loan. I can’t help but wonder how many of them will hang around once they’ve got their Degree, as we all know that a Degree does not have to be relevant to a particular profession to get you a job.

The College of Policing said: “Reducing the age you can apply to be a police officer from 18 to 17 means the police service is able to recruit from the biggest possible pool of people at a time when it is looking for an unprecedented number of new officers.

“The restriction on 17-year-olds applying, particularly through the police apprenticeship route, meant the service could potentially have been losing good candidates to other careers.”

I’m not sure about that last sentence but it will certainly make it easier for Boris to reach his 20,000. I’m not convinced that the Collage should be a positive part of that, smacks of getting involved with Politics to me. I’d rather they came up with some innovative ways to improve grass roots Policing than made Boris’ life a little more comfortable.

Apart from anything else, these 17 year old recruits won’t even be old enough to get a round in at the bar. A minor issue I agree, but it makes one think.

Finally, this scheme does nothing to address the problem of mid service officers leaving the serving early. Retention is rapidly becoming a huge problem and one that does not appear to be being adeqately addressed.

I refer you back to a recent piece wot I wrote. https://retiredandangry.co.uk/the-ever-thinning-blue-line

The number of Voluntary Resignations as a percentage of all Leavers is rising. The 5 worst affected Forces individually, and I have no idea why, were Bedfordshire at 65%, Kent at 53%, Surrey at 52%, Northamptonshire at 49% and Cambridgeshire at 45%.

Those are stunning figures, and whilst they represent the 5 worst affected Forces, it does not make comfortable reading for anyone with an interest in Policing.

So, I leave you with this thought. Which ‘solution’ would be better for Policing? 17 year old recruits or solving the Retention problem?

More College Smoke And Mirrors?

A recent set of College of Policing Board minutes makes the bold claim that the Police Service will be recruiting 53,000 new officers over a three year period.

This presumably includes Boris’ famous 20,000 officers.

My problem is this, since 2005 (at least) the Police Service has never recruited more than 10,000 new officers in a single year. After 10 years of #Cuts, where the hell are the facilties for training all these officers? How good will their training actually be? Can we actually attract 53,000 new recruits, especially given Graduate and Apprenticeship Entry looming?

Para 4.2 of the attached minutes makes this bold claim, but does anyone actually believe it?

Boris’s Mythical 20,000

Relax, this post will be very short.

Within hours of being appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson was promising to recruit 20,000 extra Police Officers for England and Wales. The majority said “Wow”, “Brilliant” and other such sayings.

Me, I said “Bollocks”.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish him well, I have no idea how the savagely depleted infrastructure will cope, but to process 20,000 recruits over 3 years will take some doing, not impossible, but highly improbable.

Only it isn’t 20,000 is it?

Since 2005 the Police Service has experienced between 6,500-8,500 ‘Leavers’ per annum. That’s way before the Tory cuts began. Govt cuts have mainly been achieved by reducing Recruiting as Police Officers cannot be made redundant.

One fact is possibly an important contributory factor, since 2010 Leavers have ALWAYS outnumbered Joiners from 2010 until 2019, when the lines cross very slightly once more..

In order for Boris to succeed in his rather rash promise the Police Service of England and Wales, collectively, will have to recruit > 40,000 not 20,000, otherwise wastage will negate Boris’s target. Boris, College of Stupid Ideas and NPCC will have to get their heads together and sort out Retention, no easy task after Cruella’s Pension Reforms.  I wish him well, we need some positive action and news to make us more optimistic, I just wish he would be more honest with the numbers (again).

I rest my case.


Before I go any further this is NOT a post rubbishing Specials. If you search through my posts I don’t think I have ever done that, there are good and bad just the same as Regulars, and I have worked with some very good ones who went on to join as Regulars.

This post is about the College of Stupid Ideas and how #Degreegate will apply to Specials.

First we had their controversial admission that the lack of a Degree will not be a bar to promotion

Times have moved on and I was interested to know what the position was with members of, or entry to, the Special Constabulary. After all, PCSOs will now be subject to their own Apprenticeship Entry Scheme from this year.

So I asked the question

The answer that I received was this

However, somebody else got a different answer

At the very basic level Specials do very much the same job as Regulars, recently some have even been recruited into Specialist roles presumably due to the difficulty in filling those roles with Regulars. Every day of every week however Specials are carrying out the same roles as Response Officers. So my question is this:-

If Specials on the Front Line are not required to have a Degree then why are the Response Officers they work alongside required to have one? Or, more accurately, new recruits will be required to either possess a relevant Policing Degree or obtain one. The probationers and new recruits of the future will be working alongside Specials who are not required to have any sort of Degree.

I emphasise once again, this is not a dig at Specials but of a policy coming out of the College that does not seem to have been properly thought through.

Don’t get me started on Boris’s magic 20,000 extra officers. I truly hope that he can deliver it. I’m just struggling to see how he can faced with an average of 7,500 officers leaving the Service every year, so he really needs to recruit approx double his stated figure. The logistical problems of that are endless thanks to Tory cuts.

What The College Did Next by Enid Blyton

The only problem is that it’s not a children’s novel, it’s a reality, and it’s coming to a Police Force near you soon.

Not content with Graduate/Apprenticeship Entry as part of the grandly entitled Police Framework Education Qualifications scheme, they’ve snuck in Apprenticeship Entry for PCSOs.

A key feature of the new PCSO entry routes is an enhanced connection between professional learning and professional practice.

▪ Level 4 PCSO Apprenticeship entry programme (England) (the End-Point Assessment is only applicable to England).

▪ Level 4 PCSO Apprenticeship entry programme (Wales)  (details of the Apprenticeship Framework (identity number: FR04078) are via the link)

▪ Level 4 (non-apprenticeship) PCSO entry programme

Forces can work with different awarding bodies for you to gain this Level 4 qualification.  The professional curriculum covered and the level of professional education and competence you will achieved is identical.

▪ an Ofqual-regulated Awarding Organisation (in which case the qualification is titled a Level 4 Diploma in Community Policing Practice)


▪ a Higher Education Provider (in which case the qualification is titled a Level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice)


 Qualifications required and how do I apply?

Applications are submitted through your preferred force, and you should check eligibility and recruitment windows locally.  

The College of Policing’s web pages have further information about recruitment and the new police constable entry routes.

No, I don’t understand it, but one thing is for certain, the College are driving a Bulldozer through Sir Robert Peel’s famous qoute

The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

If the College carry on with their unpopular PFEQ programme they will have successfully transformed a once world-respected Police Service into a sorry, upper class, shadow of its former self.

I have no idea how many of you knew about this plan for PCSOs but I certainly didn’t before today.

I have been called a dinosaur, resistant to change, in the past, and I don’t always object to that. Dinosaur? If that means Old School then Yes. Resistant to change? Resistant to change for change’s sake. Yes.

I do hope the PCSOs’ union takes this up with the College.

Part Time Policing

On Thursday morning I found myself spluttering into my Corn Flakes. A headline was staring out at me.

Met announces that Police Constables can now join the Met in a part-time role

At first I convinced myself that it was OK. Officers were working part time in the 90s, what’s different?

When I read the article I became more and more vexed. Before I go any further I want to make clear that I am fully aware that others can, and will, have different opinions to me. That is absolutely fine. Healthy debate is to be encouraged, and you can’t have a good debate if we all think the same. I shall come back to this later.

The full article can be viewed by clicking on the link above, but contains some real gems

Applicants will select from a range of employment types on their application form (full-time, part-time 24hrs or part-time 16hrs). Candidates are also able to self-select their training preferences at the point of offer of employment.

Upon attesting at Hendon, all officers attend a Certificate of Knowledge in Policing course for eight weeks. Part-time officers will have the option to complete this course on a part-time basis.

Students will then have the option to complete their foundation training full-time, full-time with a four-week break clause at week five, or via a bespoke part-time training offer.

The bespoke part-time offer will see students forming a part-time cohort twice a year, attending a four-day foundation course over a 17-week period that will be delivered between 0900-1700hrs.

The working patterns available are:

– Full time (working 40 hours per week and earning a base salary of £30,372)

– Part-time officers working an average of 24 hours per week or 240 hours over the 10-week cycle (earning a base salary of £18,223)

– Part-time officer working an average of 16 hours per week or 160 hours over the 10-week cycle (earning a base salary of £13,149).

This all sounds very complicated. Full Time is simple, nothing much has changed, but who on earth is going to administer the two Part Time schemes, and how?

My next question is how are the 16 and 24 hour Part Time schemes going to sit alongside Graduate Entry and Police Now? I assume that the Apprenticeship route is completely incompatible.

I also have concerns about who would take up this offer and why. What does the Met stand to gain from this except pegs in holes? I make no apology for being old-school. I joined in an era when The Job always came first. If your individual problems and circumstances could be accommodated they were, informally. The over-riding priority was always the Met. Work/Life Balance was skewed very much one way and the managerial attitude was very much “If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined.” Thankfully times are a bit more enlightened than that, but I am still of a generation that thought that The Job comes first, the breakup of many marriages. I’m not defending it, I don’t think we should go all the way back there, but The Job is The Job and needs to be done.

How will Duties Offices cover all the essential posts, arrange sufficient numbers of officers for Aid etc when some of those officers are on only 16 hours a week?  How does a ‘bespoke Part-Time training offer’ work?

I posted my displeasure with this policy on Twitter and the response was very much divided. Some disagreed with me, and explained how times have changed, whilst others proffered opinions quite similar to my own.

My own, old-fashioned, opinion is that ANY officer should be willing to commit to far more than 16 hours per week. One of the comments included the fact that Part Time working is not new. No it is not, but a 16/24 hour week is definitely new.

As I said at the very beginning, I don’t expect everybody to agree with me, and they haven’t. Obviously I haven’t had this scheme fully explained to,me, but I just don’t see how it is going to work. It should benefit both Met and Recruit, but I have yet to see how the Met will benefit in any meaningful way.

Part Time Policing? It’s not for me thank you.

Police Now – Impact Assessment

I have read much on Twitter this week about Police Now and how they have contributed to the world of Policing. I was particularly taken with their response to a conversation on Twitter regarding their collection of certain socio-economic data as part of their selection process.

In the interest of fairness I reproduce the relevant thread in its entirety

I was particularly taken by Tweet number 4 of the series. 53% were the first in their family to go to university, 14% received free school meals (compared to 13.6% of the population as a whole)

Another Twitter user had already queried this practice and Police Now helpfully provided their response above. My response would be “It is perfectly fair to recruit the BEST candidates regardless of their gender, ethnicity, education level or whether or not they had free School Dinners. If they really want to collect that data then they are free to collect on day one of their training regime, NOT as part of the selection process. Maybe Police Now could inform us what possible reason exists NOT to select the very best candidates? FULL STOP.

They state proudly in Tweet number 5 that 54% are women, and 20% are Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background (compared to 13% of the UK population). I must confess at this point that I do not have the data to corroborate this claim, but am perfectly happy to accept it without challenge. However, the percentages quoted above apply to the officers that they have trained.

Police Now has officially been in existence since December 2015. Their website includes this claim

Police Now’s mission is to transform communities, reduce crime and increase the public’s confidence in policing.

That’s quite a bold claim. Reduce Crime? I think it is generally accepted that crime across England is increasing, not decreasing, so I really don’t see how they can claim that they’ve been successful there.

Increase the Public’s confidence in Policing? I think that has been relatively constant over the last few years, I’m not sure quite how Police Now can claim that they have increased the Public Confidence. The Home Office have helpfully chipped in with this comment regarding Diversity;

Innovative schemes such as Direct Entry and Police Now are making the police workforce more diverse; showing that we can attract the brightest and best into policing, whilst introducing new perspectives into policing some of the country’s most challenging neighbourhoods.

As Police Now only recruit Police Officers at Constable Rank I shall confine myself to Diversity at that level and how it has been improved. Police Now came into existence in December 2015 and they have helpfully provided me with a link to find the relevant information.

The first set of official statistics after December 2015 is for 31st March 2016, so I will have to use that as my benchmark. At 31st March 2016 there were 6,020 BAME Constables in the Police Forces of England, not forgetting that Police Now did not originally serve the Welsh Forces. Ethnicity data is only published annually in March, so the latest set of comparable data is 31st March 2018. That shows a total of 6,543 BAME Constables in England. An increase of 523. In March 2016 there were 91,583 Constables in the Police Service of England, 6020 were BAME. That is 6.6%.

In March 2018 there were 90,083 Constables in English Forces, 6,543 were BAME. This is 7.3%

In their first two years of operations Police Now, in combination with traditional recruitment increased BAME representation at Constable level by 0.7%

In March 2016 there were 29,562 Female Constables in English Forces. This represents 32.3% of the workforce. In March 2018 that figure had risen to 28,306 out of a total of 90,083. This represents 32.8%.

In their first two years of operations Police Now, in combination with traditional recruitment increased Female representation at Constable level by 0.5%

It’s probably best to leave it to the Academics to come up with a conclusion, after all, I don’t have a degree in anything except Life. However, to my untrained eye, those figures don’t look like a roaring success.


Oh, and I forgot, all this has been achieved on a multi-million pound budget.

Police Apprentice or Barista? Difficult Choice

Apologies to all those who have seen this on Twitter but I’m too incandescent to drop it just yet.

My ire was sparked by a discussion on Facebook and a retired ‘old sweat’ DS could not believe that Police Apprentice was now an approved entry route with a commencing salary of £18,000 with no actual guarantee of a job at the end of it. OK, I accept that many will find employment in the muddy field at the end of the rainbow but nothing is guaranteed.

Even being an Apprentice Police Officer will inevitably involve antisocial hours, a higher than average risk of physical injury, frequent verbal abuse. You might even get to experience the delights of giving evidence at Court if you’re really lucky.

Complaints if you do the job properly. The current trend seems to be not to attack the evidence any more in a Not Guilty trial, but to attack the officer and his or her integrity. What they can’t dig up they will make up. All very stressful, and for what? £18,000, and at the same time you have to qualify for a Policing Degree at the end of it to even stand a chance of a job.

This programme covers a breadth, depth and range of professional education for the police constable not present in any previous constable training programme. This is a professional degree very much founded on effective professional performance with academic achievement. The police constable apprenticeship standard has been developed along with a police constable assessment plan, which sets out the occupational profile for the role of police constable and provides further details such as knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The apprenticeship will cover areas that are critical to effective policing in the 21st century, such as evidence-based policing, supporting vulnerable people, dealing with cyber crime and crime prevention. An equivalent apprenticeship framework has been developed for Wales.

And all for £18,000 a year?

OK, so you don’t like those prospects, who can blame you? What other options are available?

Every now and again an advert comes out for a Barista at the House of Commons, that can’t be bad surely.

2 years ago indeed.co.uk published this

How much does a Barista make at House of Commons in the United Kingdom?

Average House of Commons Barista yearly pay in the United Kingdom is approximately £22,174, which is 28% above the national average.

Salary information comes from 29 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

Please note that all salary figures are approximations based upon third party submissions to Indeed. These figures are given to the Indeed users for the purpose of generalised comparison only. Minimum wage may differ by jurisdiction and you should consult the employer for actual salary figures.

Tell me again why you want to be a Police Apprentice?

Sadly the bald figures above are not the end of the tale.

The salary levels of House of Commons baristas have been known and publicly available for many years. Did that encourage NPCC, College of Policing etc etc to fight for a higher rate of pay for Apprentice Police Officers? Oh no it did not, indeed the NPCC published a 24 page report justifying the £18k starting rate.

I note that the author has not identified himself or herself, but whoever the author is should be truly ashamed. This is a total disgrace, written in the full knowledge of other salaries ‘out there’. Any senior Police Officer who had a hand in devising or implementing this scheme should be drummed out of town.

It absolutely makes me furious that such a scheme has been devised or implemented by Police Officers of any rank, a total betrayal of (erstwhile) loyal officers.

I am not ‘anti-reform’ but I am opposed to the reform being driven through by the Tories without any regard for the consequences. They state that our Police Officers should be more professional and have more of a professional standing then they pay them less than someone who makes coffee for privileged twats at Westminster. Please tell me how this is even vaguely sensible.

Do We Want The Best Police Or The ‘Best’ Police?

Yesterday I stumbled across a conversation on Twatter featuring a well-known Chief Constable.  He was stating that ‘we’ need to do more to attract more senior BME leaders in the Police Service.  There is no “elephant in the room” here, there’s a whole herd of elephants.

I have interpreted the Chief Constable’s statement as meaning that the Police Service should promote more officers from BME origins into senior leadership positions. Personally I feel that this is the wrong approach.  Policing is in a big enough crisis as it is at the moment, it does not need to be further hampered by promoting the wrong people, we have seen way too much of that in the past.  Officers clearly unsuitable for promotion to the higher ranks got promoted simply to ‘get rid of them and make them someone else’s problem’.

When selecting officers for promotion, to any rank, we should simply be promoting the officers with the best skillsets. This does not exclude anybody of BME origins, nor does it exclude anybody on the basis of their gender, faith or sexuality.  We simply need the best available, regardless of all other arbitrary factors.

In my 30 years of service I have worked with almost all BME origins, faiths, genders and sexualities.  I have no problem with any of them. I do, however, have a problem with any of these officers who are simply not match fit.  I have worked with, and for, some fantastic female officers who I would be quite happy to see promoted.  I have also worked alongside some really bad officers who were only retained at all because of their ethnic origins.  I can recall vividly one (W) PC of BME origins who was so bad that every call she was sent to, the Duty Inspector stated that another unit had to be sent as well, regardless of the seriousness of the call, just to ensure that she dealt with the call properly.  What happened to her?  She was transferred to a much sought-after job at Scotland Yard that any officer would have given his/her eye teeth for.

I had the absolute privilege (and I mean that) of working with Norwell “Noz” Roberts, the Met’s first black PC I believe.  He retired as a DS but was truly worthy of higher rank.
We simply need to promote the best available, and not pander to artificial targets or quotas.  Cream rises to the top regardless.

Another factor to be considered is that some officers simply don’t want to be promoted.  My bosses regarded me with some suspicion because in 30 years I never once sat the promotion exam.  I never failed it, I simply didn’t take it.  I didn’t want to be promoted, almost all of the best jobs (for me) were at the bottom of the ladder not the top.  I’m pretty certain that I am not alone in that, and many others will feel similar.

Would any Chief Constable advocate conscription into the Police to raise the BME quotas?  Many simply don’t want to join so how do you raise levels?  Should the BME officers be compulsorily promoted to raise their presence in the senior ranks?  Or should we simply recruit and promote the best candidates regardless of their origins, faith, gender, sexuality etc?  If they are sufficiently well-skilled any officer who desires promotion should be eligible for promotion, but do we want officers, from any sector, to be promoted just to fill a quota and nothing more?  

It has been stated or implied that these officers bring their own unique views and experiences to the role, and this is true.  I accept that it’s true, but is it enough?

For the avoidance of doubt I will repeat that I have no problem with senior officers from any background and would happily have worked with, or for, any of them, with just one proviso, that they had been promoted purely on the basis of their skillsets and abilities to lead/command.  Is that too much to ask?  Always promote on merit but consider everyone who is eligible fairly and equally.  Similarly, if I needed the services of a brain surgeon, I would want the best one available.  I wouldn’t care one iota what the ethnicity, gender, faith or sexual orientation of the surgeon was as long as he/she was the best surgeon available.

Simply, I would prefer the best Police and not the ‘best” Police.

And A Happy New Year To You Too

It didn’t take long.  My first post of 2016 is back to questining an old chestnut from last year.

All was going well, I was sitting quietly in the kitchen munching on my Coco Pops when it happened.  I happened upon a Tweet from Jack Dromey MP asserting (once more) that the Police should look like the public they serve.


I am not opposed to diversity in the Police or any other domain. I am, however, against targets and positive discrimination.  Positive discrimination is not, in my view, helpful to anybody.

I replied to Jack Dromey asking one simple question;

Why is it not more appropriate to recruit the best candidates from whichever race, creed, sex etc they come from?  If I need the Police I don’t give a tuppeny toss what gender, race or ethnic appearance they are as long as they turn up and deal with my problem effectively.

I haven’t had a reply yet.

What do you think? Am I wrong?  Quality of the job applicant or ethnic origin? No sitting on the fence, choose one of the two options, which is more important?

And a Happy New Year by the way.