Tom Andrews

Public expectations of police education in England and Wales

  • Law

Abstract The current Police Entry Qualifications Framework in England and Wales has undergone much debate since its inception in 2018. Recently the Home Secretary backtracked on over a decade’s worth of party policy and undid the requirement for all new police officers to hold or obtain a degree in Professional Policing. This has been immediately followed by several chief constables and elected police and crime commissioners (PCC’s) dropping the requirement for a degree completely. Some have been quoted as saying “the public don’t want police officers sat in classrooms” or words to that effect. Yet no studies exist that do examine what the English and Welsh public do expect educationally of their police force. This study fills that gap by surveying n = 520 members of the public to ascertain their views. It finds that whilst a two-thirds majority of the public ostensibly say they don’t believe police officers need a degree, more than nine out of ten expect them to have some kind of police-specific higher education qualification. They would also feel overwhelmingly more confident if an officer investigating a crime they were a victim of, held a relevant policing-related degree qualification. This dichotomy is then analysed against the wider background of HE and vocational qualifications. It concludes that the problem is not with a requirement for higher education in policing, but the ‘d word’ itself and the marketing of the degree as a ‘requirement’ versus a degree as an ‘achievement’.

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