Positive Move For Hampshire To Axe Degree

IT is “really positive” that Hampshire Constabulary has become the first force to axe the degree requirement for officers, the Federation has said.

Hampshire’s new Chief Constable, Scott Chilton, told national newspapers: “I want bobbies on the beat – not writing essays.” He said that insisting on a degree ruled out many with young families and those with experience – including ex-military personnel – who were ready for operational policing.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said she believed that the Federation had influenced the Chief Constable’s decision.

Zoë said: “I talked about it with Scott Chilton when he was applying for the role of Chief Constable. I said to him: ‘This is one of the things that is really impacting our student officers’, and I do think we had a significant role in convincing him that it was the right thing to do.”

She continued: “This is really positive. We’ve had a large number of people who have come off the degree programme and there are more who want to come off, but their force has made the stipulation that you can only come off at the end of an academic year.

“It’s a real shame that the Government didn’t listen to forces when it brought in the degree requirement, because other forces are now following us in terms of getting rid of it or giving people other options.”

Before Hampshire scrapped its degree programme, student officers were approaching the Federation to say that they were struggling to do their university work and frontline training. Federation reps suggested they could train with Thames Valley Police, which was still doing the old entry programme.

Zoë said: “When we had officers coming to us, saying, ‘I’m going to quit. I can’t cope with the degree any more’, we were putting them in touch with Thames Valley.

“We had something like 25 officers resign from Hampshire and start again with Thames Valley, but without doing the degree, so they just did the basic training. Thames Valley was very accommodating and posted them to the south of their policing area, so they could commute.

“I spoke to one officer who was based at Newbury and lives near Fareham, so her commute is about an hour each way. But she says she spends less time travelling than she was studying. Her plan, as soon as she’s completed her two years, is to transfer back to Hampshire.

“We’ve kept those people in policing; if they’re good officers, why should they leave just because they haven’t been able to pass their degree?”

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