Plans for West Yorkshire Police to be one of the first forces in the UK to appoint a non-policeman to a senior officer’s post have come in for criticism.

The force will later this year advertise for a superintendent, using the new direct entry scheme which allows for leaders from other professions to apply.

The aim of the Government scheme is to widen the talent pool in the police and bring in new skills and people from diverse backgrounds.

The force is working with the College of Policing to design training tailored to meet the needs of each direct entrant.

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore said: “I fully recognise the skills, experience and leadership talent that already exists within the service and this exciting new opportunity to try something different in no way replaces it but will complement it.”

Policing Minister Damian Green has praised West Yorkshire Police for using the scheme.

But Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said that anyone coming in without policing experience would not enjoy the confidence of front-line officers.

“They are not going to have any credibility because they have never done it. You cannot teach experience.

“We have reservations about it. It is a slap in the face for internal candidates who aspire to the rank of superintendent and have worked very hard toward it.”

Mr Smart questioned the potential quality of candidates from outside the profession and said they could be used in other roles within the force.

He added: “We don’t think this is a well thought-out idea. If such a person were to be in charge of something like an EDL demonstration they might have a lack of understanding of the policing situation.”

Bradford Councillor Michael Walls (Con, Queensbury) a member of the Police and Crime Panel, said: “Once upon a time people were promoted from the ranks on their ability. How do you have people with no ability because they haven’t been in the police force?”

Coun Imran Hussain, Police and Crime Panel member and Bradford Council deputy leader, said: “I am keen to learn more about this. From the information available I have some concerns.”