Lack of interest in cops' top jobs

ONLY five officers applied for the two most senior positions within Suffolk police, it emerged today.

ONLY five officers applied for the two most senior positions within Suffolk police, it emerged today.

The constabulary received just three applications for the role of chief constable, and only two for the vacant deputy chief constable position.

The revelation comes as increasing numbers of police officers turn their backs on top jobs, prompting concern about a leadership crisis in British policing.

The situation in Suffolk has been detailed in a report issued by Suffolk Police Authority, which also shows that all five applicants were white and just one was a woman.

Simon Ash was appointed as chief constable a year ago, while Jacqui Cheer took on the role of deputy chief in 2006.

Elsewhere in the country, the vacancy for chief constable of Lincolnshire attracted just one candidate, despite being advertised twice.

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In Wiltshire there were only three applicants for the chief's job, while in Thames Valley the acting chief was unopposed when she applied to succeed to the post permanently.

So concerned is home secretary Jacqui Smith said to be about the problem in the UK, that a green paper on policing, expected within weeks, will be dominated by the problem of how to find commanders of the future.

There is speculation that Whitehall will take control of the appointment process and seek candidates from outside the police service.

Bob Jones, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, which represents senior officers' employers, said that police training needed an urgent rethink to produce chief officers for the 21st century.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said the police service boasted applicants of “outstanding quality”.

ACPO president Ken Jones said: “We are fortunate to have in the police service, both in chief officer positions and in those rising through the ranks, many men and women of outstanding quality.

“My view - and it is one which I know is shared by many inside and outside the police service - is that we have a hugely talented leadership. As a result chief constable posts are in the majority of cases subject to strong competition.”

How can police attract candidates for the force's top jobs? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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