Commissioner wants ‘capable and bright’ officers - with or without a degree
Commissioner Cressida Dick has told a committee of MPs that she would rather have a capable police officer without a degree in the Met than somebody with a degree who is not as good at the job.
Her comments came as she gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in a session discussing the future of policing, alongside NPCC Chair Sara Thornton and NCA Director-General Lynne Owens.
She said that experience of operational policing gave officers “deep expertise” but did add that allowing new recruits to study for a degree in their first years in the job would ensure future officers would have the right “technical expertise”
Ms Dick told MPs: “We all started as street police officers and we understand the craft there is in policing and the deep expertise that is gained by operational experience.
"I would always rather have a capable, bright person in my current workforce without a degree than somebody with a degree who’s not particularly capable and sometimes not very bright.
“I do think that this does allow sensible routes for all and will allow people to gain a qualification that they can then use in other places and rather like nursing, it helps to make us ensure that people have the right formal technical expertise and understanding.”
MPs asked the panel about a range of issues in policing, including violent crime, counter-terrorism, cybercrime and police numbers.
Ms Dick reiterated her previous comments linking rising crime with a fall in the number of police officers.
She said: “I would be naïve to suggest that reduced numbers of officers on the street for a whole variety of reasons, including reduced officer numbers overall, has had no impact. I’m sure it’s had an impact.”
Ms Thornton warned MPs about the consequences of falling police numbers at a time when neighbourhood policing has become more complicated.
She said: “Although in a lot of areas the numbers look the same, neighbourhood officers are doing a lot of response work, they’re doing a lot of work around mental health, they’re doing a lot of work around missing persons, so there is undoubtedly a capacity issue in neighbourhood policing.
She added that there should be a proper investment in neighbourhood policing based on a detailed analysis of demand, saying “there is more demand which is more complex and more complicated”.
Ms Owens also said uniformed and neighbourhood policing should be considered as a specialism.
Ms Owens added: "You have to see local uniformed policing as a very specialist capability in its own right. The challenge is making local people understand the demand we are facing."
Watch the whole session here: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/f509cba6-db75-472d-885b-985cb5423aa1