Police career shake-up could see foreigner in charge of the Met

Jan 30, 2013

Recruitment shake-up means outsider could lead London police in 'years rather than decades'

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TOP police recruits will be fast-tracked to chief constable positions within 10 years rather than taking a quarter of a century to climb the career ladder, as part of controversial plans to shake up the force.

The overhaul also means a foreigner could lead the Metropolitan Police within "years rather than decades", Home Office minister Damian Green said this morning. He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the police would improve if their talent pool was "widened".

Outsiders will be able to join the force as top-ranking superintendents after 15 months' training. But some have reacted with dismay, claiming promoting graduates and army officers to the higher echelons of the police service is risky. Anonymous police blogger Inspector Gadget asked: "Why not make police inspector a gap yah job?" Police Federation vice-chairman Steve White said it seemed "strange" to end the practice of new recruits paying their dues as bobbies on the beat.

The Daily Telegraph notes the changes pave the way for US "supercop" Bill Bratton to take over the Metropolitan Police after the law blocked him from applying for the position in 2011. But president of the Police Superintendents' Association Derek Barnett told the paper it was "amazing" that the government would consider employing a foreign national as the London force's commissioner is also the head of British counter-terrorism.

Home Office sources assured The Times that foreign recruits would have to come from countries with similar policing systems and speak fluent English. "It is not like a football manager's job," one said.

It's no surprise, according to the BBC's Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw, that the government's plans are proving controversial. "The Home Office is determined there will be change - but it may have to proceed cautiously."

Others have welcomed the shake-up, with Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes arguing the current system is alienating "fresh talent and new ideas". She added: "It's virtually impossible to attract experienced older talent into the service because they don't have time to climb the police ladder to the top job."

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