PCSO's frustration at police qualification changesBy Jon Nurse
February 15, 2013
An award-winning PCSO voiced his frustrations about police reforms after the route to his dream job was blocked just four days before he applied.
PCSO Craig Beales had hoped to become a police constable but applicants must now have at least two A-levels to join Thames Valley Police meaning, with just GCSEs, he does not qualify for the role.
The PCSO, who has served for four years and was commended for outstanding work, says the changes have denied him and more than 10 of his colleagues the chance to progress within the force.
“We don’t think it’s fair,” PCSO Beales said. “It’s a bit heartbreaking.
“When I was first looking into joining the police the consensus was you need experience. I’ve set about getting involved to now be told that’s not enough.
“Four days before they opened up for internal recruitment we were told we needed two A-levels.
“If they had told us three years previous we could have done something about it.”
Wokingham Neighbourhood Team Inspector Greg Elphick shares the PCSO’s frustration.
“People had understood it was the natural progression having been told by recruiting and human resources that what they were doing was a very good way to get into the force but now the goalposts have moved,” he said. “It seems a bit unfair. My frustration is there could have been a transitional period.”
PCSO Beales, 30, was commended last month for stepping in to catch conmen using counterfeit credit cards after spotting them at Tesco in Wokingham.
He is now studying a citizenship A-level in his spare time to work towards the qualifications needed to secure a post but says he doesn’t have time to study for another A-level on top of working.
PCSO Beales, of Woodley, who is based at Loddon Valley Police Station, added: “The words used are they will professionalise the police service which implies people who don’t have two A-levels aren’t professional.”
The requirement for two A-levels was recommended following a review of policing by lawyer Tom Winsor. Thames Valley Police adopted the policy last April.
Graham Smith, Thames Valley Police Federation chairman, said: “Police should take from all backgrounds and sections of the community. Artificial imposing of qualifications on their ability to join strips them of that.
“Two A-levels isn’t an especially high requirement when young people must stay in school until they are 18, but it is a barrier to certain sections of society.
“Policing skills are about communication, strength of character and moral courage and they are just as equal as two A-levels.
“We will have to see what happens in the future.”