“EVERYBODY should be treated as individuals and not judged on their age.”
That’s the reaction of the Chair of Hampshire Police Federation to the news that 17 year olds can now apply to become a police officer, although they have to wait until they are 18 to start training.
An amendment to the Police Regulations 2020 has lowered the recruitment age from 18 to 17 years old.
Recruits will not however be able to start in the role until they turn 18.
New recruitment guidance states: “Candidates aged 17 and above may apply to become a police officer and may take up appointment on reaching the age of 18 or above, if successful.”
But Chair Zoë Wakefield said she wasn’t sure the move was needed, as there was “definitely not a shortage of good candidates” coming into policing.
The College of Policing approved the changes in March this year, which were made in a bid to attract school-leavers before they go into other fields of work, and as part of the drive to recruit an extra 20,000 officers to the force.
The Daily Mail reported it as: “People too young to buy a pint can put themselves up for enforcing the law.”
But approved candidates have to be 18 before they start training, Zoe said: “Sometimes 18 is even still too young for some people, but we shouldn’t put an age on it because some people are very immature at 17 and 18 and some aren’t. Everybody should be treated as individuals and not judged on their age.”
She added that she didn’t think there would be many teenagers making the cut, when there were so many degree-holders applying to enter the police: “Through this recruitment drive, this uplift, we’re not having a shortage of people applying and definitely not a shortage of good candidates.
“I think most forces have had too many degree-holders apply, and are now putting degree-holders on the apprenticeship schemes or saying, ‘We haven’t got any space for you at the moment’. So I’m not sure why they need to do this when there hasn’t been a shortage of people applying.”
The College of Policing board minutes from March said: “The Committee noted the update on the proposed amendment to Regulation 10 around the age requirement for appointment to a police force – to allow applications from candidates under the age of 18 years in order to take up appointment on reaching the age of 18 years.
“Members acknowledged the importance of the regulation changes, which they felt would help to widen the recruitment pool and agreed that this was a direct ask from Chief Constables who felt that they were being disadvantaged in the recruitment pool compared to other organisations who promoted their apprenticeships schemes particularly to school leavers.”