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The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced proposals which would enable police forces in England and Wales to recruit senior police officers from outside the force and to fast track recruits to inspector level within three years. The move, which follows a report last year by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, is designed to attract talented individuals who may otherwise have been put off by the apparently slow rate of promotion within the police force and also open up the way for high flyers to see the police force as a potential career move.
The proposals are not without their opponents with some raising concerns that senior officers who have not learnt their trade “on the beat” may be unable to appreciate the nuances of tactical and operational situations. This debate over the merits of promoting internally or bringing in talent from outside is one which in the past has exercised the minds of business and organisational leaders in every sphere. Tales of successful and unsuccessful integrations abound with the key defining factor being the way in which the new recruit is inducted into the processes and culture of the organisation.
With culture and the future direction of the police force at the heart of the debate it is perhaps appropriate to note that Tom Winsor’s original report commented that although the police culture had “many extremely valuable strengths” it was also “somewhat closed, defensive and inward-looking” and in need of an “infusion of experience and expertise.”
With the proposals only at consultation stage at present we have no doubt that the debate will throw up some interesting comments on the merits of internal or external recruitment and we will follow its progress with interest.