Top cops could be lured to UK

Top New Zealand police officers could be lured to run British police forces under a proposed shake-up in the UK.

The UK government is looking to change the law that has previously stated that chief constables - the head officer of regional forces - must be British citizens.

Under new plans, candidates from New Zealand, Australia, and North America will be asked to apply to take over forces across England and Wales.

The jobs come with salaries from $240,000-$409,000 for the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London.

UK ministers say they want to attract the "best and brightest" candidates with the right skills to "forge a force fit for the 21st century".

However, the New Zealand Police Association doesn't expect to an exodus of senior officers.

"We'll probably end up with what happens in sport, whereby those who miss out on the top opportunities here may be tempted, but the top ones will probably stay in the hope of getting the top job here," said association president Greg O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor warned any officers considering a move to Great Britain that they would find it had "quite an inefficient police compared to our own".

He also voiced concern over a recent shift to elected police chiefs to mirror the American system which has led to "total politicisation of the police".

But in spite of the differences, there were some similarities, and he welcomed a move towards policing skills being recognised internationally.

"It could be good for New Zealanders looking to go and work over there," Mr O'Connor said.

He added that when the cost of living, exchange rates, and relocating were factored in, the UK deals would be similar to salaries offered here.

New Zealand Police welcomed the proposed plans.

"New Zealand Police works in a competitive global job market and it is a testament to the skills and experience of our senior officers that they may be considered eligible for similar roles in the UK," said Alan Cassidy, acting general manager of human resources at police headquarters in Wellington.

Superintendent Russell Gibson, district commander of Central Police, thought the proposed changes were "great".

"They've done it here in New Zealand where they've called for applications for commissioner of policing and have accepted applications from overseas jurisdictions.

"Policing is an international business, the skills are transferable, so I see it as a big positive."

UK ministers want direct entry into the police at superintendent level for "exceptional" candidates, the Daily Mail reported. Under current rules, all police must enter at constable rank.

The expected proposals would allow new recruits to skip the compulsory two years on the beat. Top applicants would be able to rise from civilian to inspector in three years and potentially by the age of 24.

In his review of policing, Her majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor said it should be possible for overseas police officers with "suitable relevant experience" to be appointed a chief constable.

"It is likely that police and crime commissioners (who appoint chief constables) will concentrate on police officers from common law jurisdictions with a tradition of policing by consent," he said.

"These are most likely to be Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America.

"It is unlikely that an officer from a country where the police have a quasiparamilitary role, such as France or Italy, would be found to have suitable experience of the British style of policing, and so I recommend that such forces be excluded."

- Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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