Red tape stops Scottish police from hiring Eastern Europeans

Scottish police forces have shelved plans to recruit officers from Eastern Europe due to red tape surrounding recruitment procedures.

Police forces north of the border were considering the strategy as a way to deal with a shortfall in officers in the next few years as the number retiring hit record levels.

But Peter Thickett, secretary of the personnel and training business area at the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and HR director at Lothian and Borders Police, said that EU vetting procedures made recruitment difficult.

“We would like to recruit more officers from Eastern Europe, but the amount of bureaucracy that is involved makes it too complicated,” he told Personnel Today.

Thickett said the current residential rule, where officers have to live in the UK for three years without any convictions, and lengthy Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks were the main barriers. “We are looking at the possibility of validated testimonials as an alternative to the CRB check,” he said.

However, he was not optimistic about the prospects. “It could take years for the Scottish Executive and the Home Office to validate proposals,” he admitted.

The strategy is unlikely to gain widespread support among English police forces. Andrew Marston, force personnel director at Greater Manchester Police, said he didn’t anticipate any need to recruit staff from Eastern Europe as there was no problem attracting new officers.

Keith Watkinson, director of personnel and training at West Yorkshire Police, said the only circumstances where it would recruit from other countries would be to better reflect the local community.

“We obviously want our forces to represent the communities they serve, but we’d rather recruit locally than overseas,” he said.

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