Sir, Lord Dear's attack on leadership in policing is both surprising and ill judged; he above all should understand the complexities of leading a service that is charged with protecting citizens 24 hours a day, managing risks that span from local to the international ("Most wanted: new leadership for the police", Opinion, Feb 1). Under his command West Midlands carried out the original inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster; while the West Midlands Crime Squad had to be disbanded when discrepancies in evidence which led to acquittals including those of the Birmingham Six came to light. He (as have I) was subject to investigation before he left to join Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, so he should be the last to join smoke and fire.
For the sake of clarity we should have no tolerance of officers of any rank who fail to maintain the required standard. That is why robust investigation is essential, and should be taken as evidence of our strong culture of accountability rather than endemic failure.
The current leadership of this service is well qualified: Tom Winsor's comprehensive report reveals 79% of senior leaders have at least one degree (38% have Masters) and many are drawn from the Russell Group of universities. The average progression from Constable to chief officer rank is 15 years and reducing - at least 6 years fewer than in Lord Dear's time. Our front line staff are of equally high quality.
The service is not opposed to direct entry but in non-command positions all forces already have senior colleagues drawn from outside police officer ranks. Likewise we support the concept of accelerated promotion for the brightest and best: many of today's chief officers rose through the service in this way before previous schemes lost favour with government.
We are lucky in this country to have at the top of our police service a group of men and women of outstanding ability, unquestioned integrity, a high level of professionalism and a deep commitment to public service. These are not my words, but those of the Prime Minister's policing adviser Lord Wasserman, with whom I am pleased to agree.
Sir Hugh Orde
President, Association of Chief Police Officers