21/01/2013 07:07 GMT | Updated 30/01/2013 18:26 GMT

Police Reforms Could See Foreign Chiefs Heading Up British Forces

Foreign police chiefs will be able to run British forces for the first time under radical reforms set to be unveiled next week.

Home Secretary Theresa May has backtracked on her previous attitude to foreign police chiefs, earlier underlining the importance of the Scotland Yard commissioner being a British citizen for national security reasons.

She now plans to change the law, allowing candidates from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, among others, to front up forces in England and Wales.

May will change the law to allow foreign police chiefs in

Current legislation prevented US 'supercop' Bill Bratton, former head of the New York police, applying to take charge of the Metropolitan Police in 2011.

With his zero tolerance initiatives, in just first two years at the helm of New York Police Department, reports of serious crime dropped 27%.

However the time, May blocked the appointment, reported the Daily Telegraph, issuing an advertisement for the role explicitly stating that “applicants must be British citizens”.

This was despite David Cameron telling MPs earlier in August: "Why shouldn’t someone, who has been a proven success overseas, be able to help turn around a force at home?”

'Supercop' Bill Bratton

The Association of Chief Police Officers has previously criticised suggestions that a foreign candidate such as Mr Bratton would be suited to running a British force.

A Home Office spokesman said: "This government wants to attract the best and brightest candidates into policing, people who have the right skills and expertise to forge a force fit for the 21st century.

"By opening up the police to a wider pool of talent, forces will be able to bring in people with diverse backgrounds and new perspectives.

"Combined with the strong leaders already working in forces, and the improved nurturing of internal talent through the College of Policing, we will have a police force that is even better at fighting crime."

Foreign police chiefs could head up forces in the UK

Ministers also reportedly wants direct entry into the police at superintendent level for "exceptional" people from the forces, the security services, industry and the professions.

Under current rules, all police must enter at constable rank but the expected proposals will allow new recruits to skip the compulsory two years on the beat to attract talent.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told a policing conference last week that it was time to "consider and support" direct entry. He added that he would like to see one in 10 senior officers recruited from outside the police force.

In his review of policing, carried out for Mrs May, ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor called for direct entry to be introduced to the police service.

Mr Winsor, who is now Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to end the notion of policing as an intellectually undemanding occupation.

He added that the "brightest and best" applicants with skills "distinctly above those of factory workers" were needed.

Police need brains above 'those of factory workers'

Under his proposals, exceptional applicants would have the chance to rise from civilian to inspector in just three years and potentially by the age of 24.

Successful businessmen and women, along with members of the armed forces and the security services, should all be encouraged to apply to the fast-track scheme, Mr Winsor said.

About 80 people should take part in the first course for inspectors, with around 30 trying to become superintendents, he recommended.