A POLICE force is to be among the first in the country to give top jobs to candidates without policing experience using a direct entry scheme – despite its chief constable denouncing the idea just four months ago.
North Yorkshire Police are one of six forces to launch direct entry, which aims to recruit people from public, private and third sectors into Superintendant positions, and fast track graduates from constable to inspector within three years.
North Yorkshire Police will join the Metropolitan Police, City of London, West Yorkshire, Sussex and Avon and Somerset forces in launching the programme to bring people with “more diverse backgrounds and new perspectives”.
North Yorkshire Police will advertise two superintendent positions, open to leaders from other professions.
North Yorkshire Chief Constable Dave Jones has previously said he did not believe in direct entry and said having experienced officers meant he could "sleep at night."
However, he said last night that he was now backing the fast track process.
The chief constable explained: “Despite my initial reservations, which were informed by basic details around the scheme, I have had the opportunity over the last six months to discuss in detail with colleagues both within North Yorkshire Police and wider police service.
“This has lead to us being able to influence the proposals so the scheme now has a very vigorous selection process and the 18 month training requires a robust operational element - which is now pass or fail - has influenced my current position.
“These developments have mitigated my main concern around operational competence.
“It is also reassuring that the ultimate decision for employing people onto the scheme is a matter for the Chief Constable.
“I have always supported the opening up of the service to new talent and ideas so look forward to the scheme delivering what will need to be exceptional individuals and thereby enhancing our services to the public.”
However, in December Mr Jones said: "Ask a military guy whether or not they would be happy having somebody without military experience come in as brigadier?
"How do you convince a chief that somebody with 15 months service can compete with somebody who has risen through the ranks?
"What happens when you put them in charge of a high-risk, dynamic event, where officers are looking to the person for leadership, when15 months ago they were working in a supermarket?
"I need good people in place so when I go home I can sleep at night."
North Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Mark Botham said: “Anything that improves service is to be welcomed.
“But we have grave reservations about direct entry. While some of our members might be able to work in a supermarket, I’m not sure the skills are transferable in the other direction.”
Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “The idea of direct entry at Superintendent level is, from my perspective, an interesting new development.
“For example, customer service expertise might aid our quest in developing a more victim-centric approach.”
Chief executive of the College of Policing, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said: "The College of Policing will support North Yorkshire Police to provide successful applicants with sufficient policing knowledge so that they can bring in their different skills, expertise and perspectives.”
The government also wants to open up the rank of Chief Constable to those who have equivalent experience outside the UK, but this has not been discussed at North Yorkshire Police.