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Recruitment shake-up could "harm" police service, says former Met Police HR director

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Home secretary, Theresa May is expected today to unveil a shake-up of police recruitment rules, which could allow police forces in England and Wales to recruit senior officers from outside the service.

The plans could also allow new recruits skip the compulsory two years as a constable on the beat and senior police officers from overseas to join as chief constables.

Former HR director at the Metropolitan Police Service, Martin Tiplady, has told HR magazine he believes these plans will be a "tall-order" to implement.

He also can't understand what problems the home secretary is trying to resolve with these proposals.

Tiplady, who retired in 2011, said: "I do not see how the jumping of junior rank straight to senior level can provide a solid foundation for the service."

He added: "I don't approve of this – are you ever going to send a Tesco manager to lead a combat team in Iraq. You want people who understand these situations and know what it's like to be in a police environment.

"You have to have confidence in your leader and jumping junior rank will not motivate or provide this.

"These plans could harm the police service who seem to be in a rush to make changes."

Tiplady did say he was "more receptive" to the idea of opening up chief constable roles to senior officers from countries such as Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand.

The proposals being put forward to MPs later today could see army officers and business leaders fast-tracked onto senior police positions.

The overhaul is part of a package of reforms that were drawn up by ex-rail regulator and Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary, Tom Winsor.

Under his proposals, "exceptional" applicants would have the chance to rise from civilian to inspector in just three years.

Winsor said: "I want to end the notion of policing as an intellectually undermining occupation.

"The brightest and best applicants with skills distinctly above those of factory workers are needed."

Steve White, vice-chair of the police federation, said: "The police federation does not support proposals that would allow external candidates to join the police service at any rank above that of constable.

"We believe the rank structure allows officers to perfectly equip themselves for their next role within the service.

"To command a policing operation effectively, a senior officer should have first-hand experience of responding to incidents in an operational capacity."

Nicky Little, head of leadership at engagement and leadership specialists, Cirrus, said: "There is a real opportunity here for the police to draw on the very best talent and experience from within the force, as well as bringing in some fresh leadership perspectives and more diverse experience from the outside. This combination can be very effective in many corporate organisations.

"Given the resistance to these proposals from some senior police officers in the media today, it's likely that any leadership appointments from the outside may be met with some cynicism. Again, many private sector leaders are used to dealing with this - particularly in today's tough economic climate, where the public increasingly values authentic leadership."

Little added: "If the police see this as an opportunity and not a threat, it could present real opportunities for ever more positive transformation."