South Wales Police commissioner "neither for nor against" direct entry
THE South Wales Police commissioner has said he "does not want to be drawn" into a debate on whether candidates can join police forces at senior levels.
Traditionally, all senior officers in British police forces start as constables and then work their way up — for example, the chief constable of the South Wales force started as a PC walking the beat in the Rhondda in 1984.
But the UK Government wants to change all that, allowing outside candidates to join forces as superintendents with 15 months' training, and fast-tracking recruits to be inspectors.
The Home Office also wants to allow senior overseas officers from countries like America to take charge of forces here.
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South Wales Police's Labour commissioner, Alun Michael, said: "I don't want to be drawn into a debate on this issue — I am neither for nor against having the possibility of looking outside the police service.
"This is a pointless debate, so I am not bothered if the Government want to make it possible to recruit externally to the police service.
"The raising of this issue won't help when at the moment we have low police morale because of the massive cuts imposed by Government, and now in effect the Ministers are saying that we don't have good enough leadership in policing.
"In South Wales this certainly isn't the case — we do, and I would want to praise them, rather than looking at outsiders."
He added: "My concern is that a London perspective, and an approach that seems to reflect a Conservative prejudice, is drowning out the good news of improved police performance and continued crime reductions."
The Home Office has launched a consultation on the proposals, but Police Minister Damian Green said yesterday that the changes will happen and that the consultation was about the best way to do it.
He added that introducing direct entry would increase the "pool of talent" available to the police, and improve the service.
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has said it does not support allowing candidates to join the police service at any rank above that of constable.