Police chiefs in job recruitment warning

Police passing out parade
Image caption David Cameron called for radical proposals over recruitment to the police force

Police chiefs are warning against possible changes in recruitment that they say could put "work experience" people in front-line roles.

It comes after the prime minister told MPs the phone-hacking scandal called for a "broader look" at policing.

Peter Fahy, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, warned of the dangers of direct entry to demanding job posts.

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Mr Fahy compared such a situation to "a medical student acting as a surgeon".

Mr Fahy said the principle that policing should not be left to the police alone was accepted.

But he added: "That said, in terms of operational policing, the level of expertise, training and experience required is extremely specialised.

"It is less realistic to imagine that someone without necessary skills and training can take responsibility for life-or-death situations, just as one would not expect a medical student to act as a surgeon.

"I am not sure the public would want people on 'work experience' in command of high risk situations."

'Fresh leadership'

Earlier Mr Cameron had told the Commons there was need for major change regardless of the economic situation.

"At the moment, the police system is too closed. There is only one point of entry into the force. There are too few - and arguably too similar - candidates for the top jobs," he said.

"As everyone knows, [lawyer] Tom Winsor is looking into police careers and I want to see radical proposals for how we can open up our police force and bring in fresh leadership."

Mr Cameron told MPs the Operation Weeting police inquiry into phone hacking would now be overseen by a figure from outside the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The Commons sat after the MPs' summer recess was delayed for a day to address the latest developments in the hacking scandal.

Earlier, a Commons home affairs committee report accused the Met of a "catalogue of failures" in investigating allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers announced that the Operation Weeting team had been expanded from 45 to 60 officers after a "significant increase in the workload" over the past fortnight.

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