NEW starters will be able to join forces at superintendent level as part of a wider overhaul of recruitment rules unveiled by policing minister Damian Green.
Mr Green also revealed plans for a fast track to inspector scheme, and foreign police chiefs will be able to run British forces for the first time. The overhaul is part of a package of reforms that were put forward by ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor in the widest-ranging review of police pay and conditions in more than 30 years.
In a written statement, Mr Green said: "The issue of choosing our police leaders is of the highest importance to the future of the police. The fast-track-to-inspector scheme will attract the brightest with the most potential to go on to become leaders.
"Direct entry at senior ranks will make sure that there is access to the best pool of talent, those who have proven leadership and business skills and who can bring with them fresh thinking from other sectors."
Under current rules, all police must enter at constable rank, but the proposals put out for consultations would allow new starters to skip the compulsory two years on the beat.
Mr Green said he would also consult on a proposal to widen eligibility for chief constable rank to include officers in equivalent roles in countries with "a common law jurisdiction" - such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.
Sir Peter Fahy from the Association of Chief Police Officers said the changes could see existing officers frustrated in their bids for promotion. The number of officers in senior ranks looks set to shrink as forces across the country face budget cuts of 20%.
He said: "In general police forces are not short of talent. In fact a bigger challenge is dealing with ambitious staff frustrated by the lack of promotion opportunities.
"Bringing people in from outside to senior leadership positions will obviously make that more difficult. There will be questions about how any direct entry scheme will work in practice, how it can be afforded and whether those already in the service can apply."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "These reforms will help open up the force to the best and the brightest outside talent, talent that has previously been beyond our reach. By having a bigger pool of experience from which to choose the Metropolitan Police will inevitably be more representative of the city it serves, across all its ranks."
© Press Association 2013