Chairman Keith Jervis: There’s been plenty of debate about the upcoming Police Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) and whether police officers need a degree to do their jobs.

We have to accept that the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs Council have introduced this as the way officers will enter the police service from now on, either on a police degree apprenticeship scheme over three years, or with an appropriate degree – what’s termed as a D-Hep over two years.

I must ask why we are changing a system of recruiting which has served the police so well for so many years, a system of recruitment which, I think, reflects the communities we serve. I remember joining Staffordshire Police almost 30 years ago, and the intake of probationary PCs which I was part of had a former postman, someone who was ex armed forces, and a former shop worker. I had finished an apprenticeship in engineering and along with a university graduate, we represented a real cross section of society.

Good policing is grounded is good decision making, sometimes on the spot with little chance to consider, in a measured and analytical way, the options and outcomes. In my experience, officers become really skilled at it, not because they hold a degree but through learning from their time-served colleagues and through experiential, on the job learning.

The more incidents you attend as an officer, the more skilled you become at dealing with them and investigating them. Will the focus now be on academic achievement rather than policing skill? If you do not achieve a degree, even though you may be an outstanding police officer, you will not be retained as an officer?

We’ve already seen a reduction in people applying to join the service and, even more worryingly, a reduction in BAME applicants, when for so many years campaign after campaign has tried to encourage more people from these backgrounds to sign up and, again, to reflect the communities policing serves.

Some see this as ‘a degree for free’ no student debt ability to achieve a degree and then immediately leave the service to use that degree in a better paid and less risky job. We’ll have to wait and see if attrition rates are high.

Of course, as a local Federation and staff association we will do our very best to help and support all police officer recruits, however they joined the service and we wish them every success.