London - British Trust in police was at an all time low and the morale of officers had nose-dived, at the end of 2012. News that former members of the military, business leaders and foreign officers may be fast-tracked into senior posts has not been well received.
The British police service is facing reform. The UK Coalition government has set out the various plans it has for the future of the British police force. Rather than announce a wide ranging set of reforms it is revealing changes a little at a time. The latest announcement, Wednesday, is that new recruits with no policing experience may be able to 'jump through the ranks'.
Currently new recruits face a compulsory two-year period on the 'beat'. This will be scrapped. Doing so paves the way for an 'outsider' to enter the force at Superintendent level. No working their way through the ranks, but instead a fast-track to a senior position. Earlier assurances made, when starting pay was cut in January, appear to have fell by the wayside. In January it was announced that the starting salary for a new recruit would be cut. A police officer's starting salary was being cut by £4,000 to £19,000, announced Home Secretary Theresa May. Scotland decided against this move.
The pay reforms followed a review of British police pay by ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor. He was appointed Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales in 2012, controversially becoming the first non-policeman named to the post. In trying to 'sell' the pay reforms to officers and the public, it was stressed that officers would be able to reach the higher ranks sooner. The BBC reported, 'The proposals also cut the number of pay scales from 10 to 7, meaning officers could reach the higher pay grade of £36,000 more quickly'. That may now prove impossible.
'Successful businessmen and women, along with members of the armed forces and the security services, should all be encouraged to apply to the fast-track scheme, Mr Winsor said', reports SkyNews. It is not hard to see the motives behind this proposed change. It will ensure jobs for those in the military who are facing job cuts. It will allow Tory affiliates to lead police forces. It will in effect mean that the police has lost any trace of independence from the government. Last year's police commissioner elections in the UK were a 'wash-out'. They were badly received by the public. They did nothing to improve trust in the police nor enable forces around the country to function more effectively. They certainly did not improve police morale.
As 2012 drew to a close trust in British police was said to be at all time low. There were many reasons cited. Allegations of historic child and sex abuse showed that in the past the police had failed to prosecute. The same was true of the phone hacking scandal. Allegations of corruption did nothing to restore confidence. The so called 'Plegate' initially raised some sympathy for the officers involved. That was proved to be lies and investigations continue.
Allowing a former Colonel or Chief Executive of a retail outlet to step into a Senior police role with no training, nor experience, is nonsense. It belittles the service. It reduces career opportunities for the 'rank and file'. It could tie the police and military together, something which will not sit well with British people.
A similar pattern has been followed by the NHS. Thirteen years experience of working for the NHS taught this writer that changes and reform appeared to be almost constant. The NHS now tries to operate as a business. Some trusts have spent small fortunes on dividing into small business units. Those spearheading reform in these trusts seldom have any NHS or health care experience. They are managers. It has not worked in the NHS, so why should this have a positive impact on the British police service?