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Direct entry cohort will be less than half of government target

PoliceOracle.com can also reveal that one force spent £45,000 advertising the scheme this year
Published - 25/06/2015 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

Direct entry has been branded "an expensive distraction" after it emerged that just seven candidates have made it through to the interview stage of this year's recruitment process.

The initiative, which is meant to open up leadership positions to those with experience outside the service, sees successful recruits starting a policing career at superintendent level after an 18 month training period. 

While the Home Office originally set a target of drafting 20 people with managerial nous through the scheme each year, just over half of the 13 who made it through the same stage in 2014 remain in the process.

This year some 39 candidates were sent through to the College of Policing's national assessment centre from individual forces taking part - with 30 of those coming from the Met.

Training of would-be superintendents was estimated by the Winsor Review at a cost of £180,000 per recruit. In 2014 this was believed to have been £120,000, including salary costs.

Home Secretary Theresa May has repeatedly said she wants the police service to go "further and faster" with the process.

The costs of the training are borne by the Home Office rather than individual forces, however the initial recruitment is down to chief constables and so they have the option to pay to advertise the posts.

At the same time the number of recruits dropped, the spending on advertising by forces has also fallen, analysis by PoliceOracle.com suggests.

As previously reported, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire's joint bid to find one superintendent saw no one referred to the national assessment centre - but the forces spent nothing on advertising.

A new College of Policing website was launched this year to provide a central recruitment platform.

The Met, which forked out £103,000 of its own money and £22,000 of the College's last year, only spent £45,000 this year.

The force told PoliceOracle.com this was partly because it made use of the website designed for the purpose last year, as well as associated graphics and logos. In 2014 it also took out an advert in a national Sunday newspaper, which it did not do this time.

Academic and former chief constable Peter Neyroud (pictured) said alternative schemes such as the graduate PC-recruiting Police Now were far better ideas. He told PoliceOracle.com he would like to see senior officers being bolder about promoting rapidly from within if the talent was there.

He said: "The scheme does look like a rather expensive distraction," adding that observing colleagues carrying out stop and search or overseeing custody suites for a short time was no substitute for years of experience doing so.

"As the economy seems to be slightly more productive at the moment, demand from other sectors for high quality graduates is going to make policing decreasingly attractive," he added.

"A lot of the rhetoric of government is anti public-service, so they might want to reflect on that too.

"If the money is in banking and business, it's not surprising the number is down. This is another reason for growing your own - picking people who have committed to the organisation from a longer period of time."

College of Policing Direct Entry lead, Chief Superintendent Nicola Dale, said: "The number of candidates to make it through the assessment centre reflects how rigorous the process is because our focus is on the quality of those applying.

"There was concern about the ability of people to join at the rank of superintendent so it is only right that we ensure the assessment is rigorous enough to meet the standards required."

She told PoliceOracle.com earlier this month that a review will take place to see what can be done better next time. She added that recruiting from potentially such a wide spectrum of professions made it challenging to advertise for.

The other forces taking part in the scheme this year are Sussex, Hampshire, Leicestershire and Suffolk.

A Home Office spokesman said the government is still committed to the process. "Direct entry schemes are opening up a career in the police to the brightest and the best from a variety of backgrounds and breaking down the culture which sees many officers spend 30 years in policing without gaining experience in other professional walks of life. That’s why we introduced the scheme and will continue to build on it," he said.

"Entry at superintendent level is a very demanding challenge and it is right that the process of identifying candidates should be highly selective."

Thames Valley Answer

Then-Thames Valley Police chief constable, Sara Thornton, directed last year's national assessment centre.

TVP this year failed to find any suitable candidates to pass on to the same centre.

PoliceOracle.com asked the force via its press office on June 5 how many applicants it had, how much it spent advertising the process, and if it was intending to take part in future. Despite repeated enquiries it was yet to answer until 4.58pm yesterday.

At that time an emailed statement said: "TVP received a total of 20 applicants this year. Five people were invited to interview and four people attended." None were successful.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the force wants to continue its involvement in the process in future in order to bring "more people from diverse backgrounds and different perspectives in to policing".

She was unsure if the force spent any of its own money on advertising the process.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to the force on how much it spent advertising the process was initially met with a response asking for clarification as to what the definition of "direct entry" is.

After a response from PoliceOracle.com which included links to their own webpages advertising the scheme, the FOI officer replied: "Thames Valley Police hold no information in response to this request. Please note we have assumed from your clarification that you are referring to the Direct Entry Superintendant (sic) scheme."

It added that the only cost incurred was the time taken by existing staff to advertise "the event (sic)".

 

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