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Last updated on October 18th, 2023 at 08:22 pm

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Much has been said already about degree-level entry into the Police Service, or #DegreeGate,  and I’m pretty sure that much more will be said in the months and years to come.

I had a ‘conversation’ yesterday with some faceless, nameless Rupert from the College of Policing as I wanted to be clear in my mind exactly what was being introduced.

I’m still a tad unclear as to exactly when the three prescribed routes into the Police Service (at Constable level) will come into play but essentially, taken from the College’s own documentation, they will be:-

  • Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA): you will be a police constable on a three-year degree apprenticeship programme, therefore you will be paid a salary from your start date. We anticipate that some forces will start the PCDA programme from April 2018, while others will phase it in during 2018/19.
  • Professionally focused undergraduate degree in policing: you will be on a university programme to achieve a pre-join undergraduate degree in policing, therefore this will be at your own expense. We anticipate that universities will start to offer the pre-join undergraduate degree in policing from September 2018.
  • Degree Holder Entry Programme: you will already have a degree (it doesn’t have to be police-related) and you will join as a police officer on a learning programme, therefore you will be paid a salary from your start date. We anticipate forces will start the Degree Holder Entry Programme from September 2018.

In fairness to the College they have stated that they intend to publish something soon that will clarify any misunderstandings about the above scheme.

So, unless I’ve misunderstood something, somewhere, serving officers can, BUT DO NOT HAVE TO, further their career and promotion prospects by studying for a degree.  ALL new recruits into the Police Service of England and Wales will either have to possess a degree already, or join the Degree Apprenticeship scheme and obtain one whilst serving (at no cost to themselves)

As has been stated by the College in their 3rd Tweet above all new recruits, regardless of how they entered, will have obtained a degree (or already possessed one) by the time they have finished their training.

Fast Forward a few years, all the old thickos like me without a degree will either have retired or left in disgust, and the Police Service will be comprised of 100% Graduates.  We know the College want this, we know that Sir Tom Winsor wants this, I suspect that the government are behind it and they want it, so once again political influence wil be insidiously shaping the face and body of the Police Service.

At the moment I have three main concerns about this scheme, but I’m sure I’ll think of more over the next year or so.

  1. I have asked myself several times “Could I have done my job any better than I did over 30 years if I had a degree?” and the honest answer was NO.  I have no problem with Graduates in the Police whatosever, but I do not understand why it is suddenly compulsory for new recruits.  Somebody with a degree will no doubt be able to tell me how long it will take to replace the dinosaurs with graduates, my abacus isn’t up to it.  Just so long as Quentin can come along with his 2nd Class Degree in Classical Greek from Huddersfield (sorry Huddersfield) University, wave it at the Recruitment Officers and get accepted for the Police that’s OK.  That is EXACTLY what is wanted for the future.
  2. Secondly, it has long been a thorn in the side of the government, and others, that ethnic minorities are under-represented within the Police Service.  Universities across the land are currently admitting that their own students do not fully represent the ethnic makeup oif the population.  Ethnic minority students are under-represented within Universities. So how exactly is this scheme going to help address the balance within the Police Service?  Maybe ethnic minority students will all join via the Degree Apprenticeship route then.  Yes?  Possibly not.
  3. Finally, and one that I’m convinced that the College haven’t taken into account, is CORRUPTION.  Joining via the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme means that the recruit is paid a salary during training, not a great one, but a salary nevertheless.  If a recruit joins via Professionally Focused Undergraduate Degree in Policing, or Degree Holder Entry Programme their degrees are obtained at their own expense.  According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies in 2017, the average student in England will graduate with debts of over £50,000 – those from poorer backgrounds will incur more, with more loans available to them.  So, Rookie Constable John Smith joins the Police Service with a Student Loan Debt of £50,000 (or possibly more), he goes out onto the streets of London, or anywhere else really, and is somehow miraculously immune from temptation.  We all know that those tempations are there, fortunately very few succumb to them.  Over the last few years Married Quarters and Section House accommodation have disappeared, Housing Allowance is in its Death Throes if it hasn’t gone completely.  The Met, amazingly, will only take recruits who live in London.  Who can afford to live there on circa £23,000 or less?  But somehow temptation and corruption will not be a problem with these Graduate Entry officers up to £50,000 in debt, not including mortgage if they have one.

I genuinely do look forward to the College’s clarification of this scheme, because I can’t see ANY benefits for the General Public.  I can certainly see the benefits of having a degree if one wants to climb the greasy pole of promotion and career advancement, but sorting out a pub fight on a Saturday night, or telling Mrs Smith that her son/daughter/husband won’t be coming home because they’ve been in an RTC?  I don’t think so.  Please, anybody, add a comment to this post and inform me, how will Front Line Officers (or the Public) benefit from everyone having a degree? I really do want to know.

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8 thoughts on “#DegreeGate”

  1. Hi, I joined the Met as a graduate and after I left a got another degree. Both universities were in the top ten in the UK at the time I was studying at them.I also rejoice in the name Tristram, my parents having missed the opportunity to go for Quentin. I have just been browsing your blog. Excellent writing, couldn’t agree more with your views on everything I have read so far on graduates, Winsor, the state of policing and the execrable ‘law and order’ party. I am just a fan of your blog, thanks. I also know a bit about POCA if you ever want to write anything about that.

    1. Thank you Tristram, very kind. I have to confess that I’m not hugely knowledgeable around the POCA but I’m always willing to post ‘Guest Blogs’ if you want to write something on the topic I will post it for you, either anonymously, or credited to you, I don’t mind either way. Regards

  2. What policing needs are a range of individuals that reflect society as a whole. Entry should itself reflect that not everyone starting a working life has a degree but they all have the option either before entering the workplace or afterwards in doing so. It seems to me that ‘doing the job’ requires a big dose of common sense and some life experience. It would make a lot of sense if probationer training was to adopt a must have knowledge and skills base that could be used as credits towards a policing degree IF the individual then decided that they wanted to pursue that. The oportunity to take additional modules in policing subjects and management skills following probation could then be added on as credits to a degree. During my career I met many officers with and without degrees and I can honestly say that having a degree is no indication of fitness for the role of a police officer.

    1. I agree with just about everything you say. I have no objection to Graduates whatsoever, if it is felt appropriate that all officers should have degrees then reset training so that successful completion of initial training and Probation results in the award of a degree in Policing Skills or whatever they want to call it. No problem with that, the College get their wish that the Police Service looks more professional. However I have many objections to requiring a degree just to get through the doors. Many pitfalls that way.

  3. Gordon Williamson

    Alan in short a degree doesn’t help anyone be a good Police officer.
    We’ve seen enough graduate entry Police officers for many years now to know that you get some good, some bad and some utter incompetent graduate who were incapable of being any sort of a police officer. The incompetent one if they join on graduate entry still made it to at least Inspector rank (some even higher) because that was the deal and if they didn’t it would be an admission that the scheme was flawed.
    The good one’s weren’t good because they had a degree, it was because they had the right character and instincts and those that made good leaders didn’t havea degree in leadership it was again part of their character.
    It wouldn’t have taken much to have adjusted our police training to have allowed us all to leave with a degree in Policing but as usual they destroy something that has stood the test of time and tried to reinvent the wheel!
    I think that all of the points you make are valid.
    But why go this route?
    The old saying about those that can do, and those that can’t teach but now those that teach will never have walked the dark streets, or faced violence and are unlikely to have felt a collar.
    (They will be in good company as many or senior elite won’t have that experience and Tom Windsor in his ridiculous uniform did earn earn that honour)
    What is behind all this is money.
    Someone will now profit from these degree courses it’s about to become a good earner.
    It sets an unpleasant example for policing in the future.
    Just like our PCC’s who accept funding from whoever is willing to grease their palms and who will call in that favour.
    Our training will be motivated by greed and making a profit and not public service.
    A very sad day!

    1. I certainly agree that Police Training could easily be realigned to provide a degree at Confirmation if one has reached the required standard. I wouldn’t argue against that at all. That way it would leave the door open for anyone suitable to join and achieve a degree and not bar anyone who doesn’t already have one. The Degree Apprenticeship route might be the better option, but needs rethinking if the Job wants to get away from Winsor’s “blue collar worker” image. Additionally, as I’ve already said, NONE of these routes in will improve diversity one iota, and could possibly make it worse

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