Policing By Degrees

I see that the thorny subject of ‘Degrees’ has risen to the surface again over the last few days.

I realise that Sir Tom Winsor thinks that Police a Officers generally are a ‘blue collar’ bunch of ‘thicko’s’ who can’t wait to clock on and clock off again, but ‘Hooe The Front Pages’ we’re not all like that.

Unlike Nursing, where I can see the benefits, I really don’t think that it’s vital to hold a Degree in the world of Policing.  Some of the best coppers I ever met didn’t have more than a couple of O Levels.  One or two of them could hardly string a sentence together but we’re very good at what they did.

Copper get is a funny old world, and you can have as many pretty pieces of paper as you want but they are no guarantee that you will be a good Copper.

However, I wouldn’t really want to totally rule Degrees out, I can see where there is a place for them.

I wouldn’t object if Uncle Tom or The College brought in a requirement to hold a Policing Degree of some kind before one could be promoted above the rank of Inspector, for example.

Alternatively, maybe some kind of Vocational Degree that one could qualify for at the end of Probation, ticking boxes along the way, and Probation would continue ad infinitum until all the boxes were ticked and the Degree could be awarded?

Yes, there are some things that one absolutely have to know about to be a good and efficient Police Officer, but being a good Copper can’t be taught in the classroom.

I once took a young Probationary PC Learning Beats.  Nice enough chap, had a First Class Honours Degree in History. Absolute tosser as a Copper but he could pace exams so shot up the Police Ladder at an alarming rate, destined to become ACPO a material one day.  In the Custody Suite he was a nightmare, couldn’t hack it at all on a Friday or Saturday night so he quickly joined the ESSO Cclub ( Every Saturday and Sunday Off) and moved onwards and upwards, becoming somebody’s Staff Officer until he got promoted high enough to need his own.

I often wonder what happened to him, last I heard he had had a nervous breakdown and was considering a career change. That’s where Degrees get you in Policing.

It’s absolutely vital to receive a certain level of Academic coaching, PACE for example needs to be fully understood, and I felt that the Met only really did it justice in Basic Training, those of us who joined before PACE got literally just a few hours, nowhere near enough bearing in mind the importance of that particular piece of legislation.

At the end of the day these are just the ramblings of an old pensioner, Milky Bar won’t take any notice of me, any more than I will take notice of him, but at least I’ve got it off my chest.

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4 Comments

  1. In the Met pre 1968 it was necessary to hold a pass in the Civil Service Police Subjects exam before one could be considered for promotion. A second class pass enabled one to be promoted to Sergeant and Station Sergeant, a first class to Inspector and above provided of course that they passed the relevant promotion exam or selection board.
    I was one of the thickos who had no O or A levels but managed to get a first class pass. The exam was I think a test of common sense.
    Many officers were unable to pass rhese exams and so having passed the police promotion exam were inable to advance.
    In 1968 ‘The abolition of the prevention of idiots act’ was enacted the Civil Service exam was done away with and the flood gates opened to all those who could learn by rote but had little understanding of policing.
    That is where the senior ranks came from in the 70s and 80s.
    As far as I know there isn’t a university in the land that provides a degree course in Common Sense.
    That is where the fault lies.
    Rant over.

  2. I have a degree. I have one of those that you had to take a loan out for (I’m still paying ot off and I’m 35 after leaving university over 14 years ago). It has absolutely no value to what I do now. It won’t get me promoted any quicker! And the really frustrating fact is, that after nearly six years service I come out with £200 less than a PART TIME PCSO every pay day! That’s how far a degree gets you. If I was leaving university now with perhaps at minimum £27,000 debt the last career would be thinking of would be the police with the new £19,000 starting salary. Are Winsor and May deluded??? The police will never attract the brightest and aspirational graduates on that paltry salary. I bet even local authority parking wardens get more than that!!!

    • I think it was last year that the House of Commons were advertising for a Barista at far more than the £19k starting salary for a Constable. That puts the government’s priorities into perspective Rufus.

      • It certainly does. I really cannot see a fresh out the door Oxford or Cambridge graduate with a first class honours degree thinking to themselves ‘You know what? Forget going to Harvard to do my Masters/PhD. Forget going into the financial sector and earning mega bucks. I am gonna join up Bullshire Constabularly where I can earn £19,000 and after two years of being grinded down and risking my life and health I might (MIGHT) have opportunity to be promoted to sgt!!!’ Even the HPDS or direct level entry scheme is going to attract them and even if it does they won’t stay. Not the most intelligent anyway because the pay of an Inspector and all the responsibility is not worth it when they could be high flyers anywhere in the world. Bloody hell, will the £19,000 even make minimum wage when a huge chunk of pension is removed??? There will be bobbies literally coming out with £900 – £1000 a month soon. Better off working as a barista! At least these graduates won’t be doing 10-14hr shifts with not even a drinks break.

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