29 January 2013
Last updated at 19:54 ET
The proposals could mean officers no longer start out as constables
Plans to allow police forces in England and Wales to recruit senior officers directly from outside the service are to be detailed by the government later.
Among the ideas expected to be included in a consultation document is permitting senior police officers from overseas to join as chief constables.
The current system sees all recruits begin work as a constable, regardless of age, skills or experience.
Many in the police service have already voiced opposition to direct entry.
The Home Office proposals herald a fundamental change to the current system of police recruitment, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says.
It takes about 25 years for a newly recruited constable to work their way to the most senior level, a process that is thought to deter talented people from other professions from joining the police, our correspondent adds.
The direct-entry plans expected to be put before MPs follow recommendations in a report last year by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe backs some external recruitment
These included fast-tracking recruits to inspector level within three years, allowing outsiders to join as superintendents with 15 months’ training and opening up chief constable roles to senior officers from countries such as Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand.
The proposals would mean Army officers and business leaders, for example, could move quickly into senior jobs.
Mr Winsor has previously said he believes people from other professions could “enrich” the police service.
The former rail regulator said direct entry into the police service had the potential to “change the face of modern British policing for the better”.
But Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has urged caution against giving too much responsibility to those from outside the police service.
He argued he would not want people on “work experience” in charge of policing disorder in Northern Ireland, where he used to be the chief constable.
Steve White, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it did not support proposals that would allow external candidates to join the police service at any rank above that of constable.
“We believe the rank structure allows officers to perfectly equip themselves for their next role within the service,” he said.
He said there were also reservations about overseas recruitment of senior officers, adding: “We have the best police service in the world so it seems strange that the government – which often echoes this view – may wish for forces to recruit chief constables from overseas.”
But Britain’s highest-ranking officer, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has said he would like to recruit 10% of senior officers from external candidates.