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Apprenticeship pay levels could mean only teenagers want to join police, expert warns

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Pension schemes also at risk from incoming reforms to police recruitment, it is feared.

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Joan Donnelly from the Police Federation says she finds it 'shocking' that chiefs do not yet know what apprentices will be paid

Chiefs have been criticised for not having decided what apprentices are going to be paid a year before the introduction of the new route into the job.

Forces have already had an effective per cent budget cut as they are now paying 0.5 per cent of the cost of their total salaries towards the government’s apprenticeship levy.

The College of Policing and NPCC have previously said that they want policing apprenticeships to be up and running in 2018.

The reform is one of a myriad being planned by senior officers, including making having a degree a requirement for non-apprentices, and making most existing allowances part of pay.

Proposals drawn up so far suggest that apprentices could be paid 20 per cent less than current probationer constables.

Joan Donnelly, a researcher for the Police Federation of England and Wales, calculates that the average officer currently has a disposable income - after housing and bills are taken into account - of about £35 a month, and that the average starting age of an officer is 28.

“We are concerned that an unintended consequence of reducing apprentices' wages so much is that policing will become a profession for 18-year-olds and no one else.

“The unintended consequence will be on how policing is seen – a lack of life experience and a big change to the culture of policing,” she said.

Mike Brown, also from the Fed, warned that the result could be further changes to existing and future pensions too.

“There is a danger that less people will join police pension scheme, making it less sustainable.

“And I don’t think anyone wants to see further changes in the police pension scheme,” he said.

Chief Constable Francis Habgood, NPCC lead for pay issues, told the discussion which took place at the Police Federation Conference that the current police regulations make it difficult to design a new pay level for apprenticeships.

He said: “Please don’t go out and think this is about a 20 per cent reduction, because that is something that was an option.

“We do need to make sure that this is an attractive offer for everyone at any stage of their lives because that life experience is fantastic.”

He added: “One of the things we do need to think about is […] in the future we’re going to have police officers coming in who have a degree and probably £50,000 plus of debt, or we’re going to have people coming in as an apprentice who will have zero debt because everything will be paid for and they will earn.

“I don’t know what the right answer is […]. I think we need to look at what the market is doing in other sectors on high level apprenticeships.”

But Ms Donnelly said: “I find it really shocking that you’re saying you don’t know what the pay will be for apprentices yet, and your saying you don’t know whether it will be a 20 per cent reduction – because this is going to be introduced, you’ve said it’s going to get lots of bright new talent in, but you don’t know what the offer is. These things are fundamental.”

View on Police Oracle

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