The Chief Constable supported by the PCC is now challenging the College of Policing to suspend country-wide implementation of PEQF until the summer of 2023
A move to impose degree qualifications on new police officers could be challenged in the courts by the county’s Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner in a bid to protect front-line policing.
Chief Constable Bill Skelly supported by PCC Marc Jones has taken the first step in a judicial review of the College of Policing’s decision to force all new police officers to undertake a degree course.
Because of the extra time the degree will take to complete, in comparison to the current training, it will force 40 Lincolnshire officers off the front line and into classrooms – and cost the force around £4 million in lost front line policing and extra training fees.
That means that almost one in ten of all deployable officers across the county will not be available for active duty, creating even more pressure on the police service and affecting its ability to keep communities safe.
The requirement for new officers to study for a degree, called Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF), is currently due to come into force from next year.
The Chief is now challenging the College of Policing to suspend country-wide implementation until the summer of 2023 to give time for proper evaluation of the impact of the new measures. The PCC has backed the challenge and has already made public his opposition to PEQF.
The legal costs are estimated to stand at around £20,000 but, according to PCC Marc Jones, the sum is a necessary investment to protect £4m worth of front line services and local residents.
“I don’t take this step lightly but I was elected by the people of Lincolnshire to represent them and act in their best interests regarding policing and crime. Put simply, if I did not challenge the imposition of these untested and far reaching changes that will see fewer officers on the streets of my county and the country as a whole I would be failing in that duty,” said Mr Jones.
“The public did not support a council tax rise earlier this year so we could put extra cops in classrooms and to have fewer than ever fighting crime and protecting communities. I would have expected the College to present a single business case that includes a detailed academic rationale, full financial assessments, detailed equalities assessments and a full benefits realisation plan.
“Protecting the people of Lincolnshire is our number one priority and to do that we cannot support a further loss of officer numbers to this ill thought through scheme. We believe that losing around 40 officers from the front line without challenging the College would be unforgivable and the costs to the public both financially and in loss of service leave us with no choice.”
Mr Jones has also written to his PCC colleagues in England and Wales and believes many share his views on the introduction of PEQF.
Chief Constable Skelly said: “I have been raising these concerns with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for more than two years since the impact of PEQF became clear,” he said.
“The College has pushed forward ignoring the growing evidence that demonstrates the impracticality of their proposals.
“All I am asking for is a stay of implementation (to the summer of 2023) to give time for a legitimate evaluation of the new system being imposed across the country and for the results to be assessed and any adjustments made,” says Mr Skelly. “In the meantime we are developing an enhanced initial training package that meets the requirements of the modern police officer without creating an unaffordable impact on the police service in Lincolnshire.”