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Officers sit first national online exam

More than 1,390 officers sat the National Investigators? Exam remotely in a first for policing.
Published - 09/09/2020 By - Chloe Livadeas

Officers from 46 forces in England and Wales were the first to sit a national online exam for career progression – in this case the NIE (National Investigators' Exam).

Candidates from all 43 territorial forces and three non-Home Office forces (British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police) sat the exam.

The normal method of assessment was halted by the college earlier in the year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Promotion exams have already gone ahead online, with the Metropolitan Policing holding inspectors exams remotely in May.

Officers were given a specific day to sit the exam between 8am-8pm. The format, content, structure and timing of the exam are largely the same, with the same number of questions as in previous years.

Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly, from the College of Policing, said: “The challenge we faced was ensuring officers continue to be promoted while at the same time keeping them safe during a pandemic.

“Moving the exams online should have been a two-year process but this was undertaken in six months to meet the demand from forces and officers.

“This emergency solution is one that we want to be fair and consistent to officers across the board and we wish them all the very best."

Assistant Chief Constable Kerrin Wilson, chair of the Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) Board, said:  “The COVID pandemic has provided an opportunity to look into new ways of hosting exams; with the move to online examination. This has presented opportunities around the flexibility of candidates to take the exam, setting up their own environment and timings and also for forces to be able to decide how to host exams.

“The online exam has removed some of the wider administration, meaning that candidates will have results delivered directly to them.”

Critics of the online exam have raised concerns around its integrity, and have pointed out the resources that candidates could have access to at home, including other serving, more senior officers.

The college said that the number of questions and duration of the exam will make it unlikely that referring to notes or manuals would create an advantage.

The college also said each officer was issued with a strict statement of integrity and confidentiality to "ensure the legitimacy of the exams".

ACC Wilson said: “I have worked closely with the College to address concerns and questions around the online exam, in particular the integrity of the exam being taken in a non-invigilated environment. Whilst there are some assurances around this I am keen that together we will continue to review and refine as we move forward to ensure that we learn and evolve from the NIE to the next set of online exams. ”

DCC O’Reilly added: “Like any ‘first’ in policing we will be monitoring and assessing how the exams are run and how the grades compare to previous years.”

The next exams taken online nationally will be for future Inspectors’ and Sergeants’ later this year.

The Red Snapper Group, which Police Oracle is part of, last week launched their new ‘Future Leadership Scheme’, aimed at helping officers from underrepresented backgrounds pass their National Investigators and Sergeants exams.

Delegates will receive examination support services and one-to-one mentoring from former mid-rank and senior officers, all of whom are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds within the police service.

The scheme will support delegates through the

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