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Degree programme needed to reflect changes to the job, says college CEO

The College of Policing?s CEO has said the implementation of the degree programme is needed to prepare officers for policing a digital world.
Published - 21/05/2021 By - Chloe Livadeas

The validity of the College of Policing’s Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF) which requires new recruits to either be or become degree holders was questioned this week after Northamptonshire’s chief constable Nick Adderley raised concerns that the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship was producing an influx of “very young” recruits lacking life experience and unprepared for the reality of policing.

But the college’s interim CEO, Bernie O’Reilly, who joined as an officer in 1989, said policing has “changed incredibly” and the training needed to be updated to reflect this.

“The job is getting, frankly, harder. It's harder than it was 30 years ago,”  Mr O’Reilly told Police Oracle. “We want to make sure we recognise that."

He went on to say: "The public deserves highly trained, highly skilled officers that can protect them, that can protect them from online fraud, that can protect children from being exploited online, that can protect them from all these different things.”

“Everything these days has got a digital footprint. Back in the day when a house was burgled, you'd look for some glass with some fingerprints or a bit of blood on. Now you're going to a burglary and you ask has your MacBook been stolen? Are you able to track it from your phone?

“If everything's got a digital footprint, we can't rely on people's own almost self-taught intuition. They need to get that importance of how to investigate digital crime."

He said the demand on forces of modern slavery and other types of exploitation meant it was also important officers are trained to understand the meaning of vulnerability and how to manage it.

“We used to absolutely focus on protecting property - cars and houses and shops," he said. "Of course, protecting property is really important. But we've got to protect people as well. And to protect people you've got to be trained in and understand what vulnerability is.”

Dr Carole McCartney is a professor of Law & Criminal Justice at Northumbria University and runs the Operational and Practical Policing module on the PCDA. She was part of the team who drew up the contract with Northumbria Police and the university – which was one of the first in the country to implement the programme.

“Everybody knows and has known for years that policing is changing - it's more demanding than ever,” she told Police Oracle. “There are different requirements now put on police officers. You talk about violence on the streets – that’s really only a small part of what they do now. They’re mental health workers, they're dealing with domestic violence, digital fraud, organised crime, modern slavery – there's all sorts of things that wasn't included in their initial training 20 years ago because it wasn't a thing that they did.”

She said we needed "better trained, better educated" police force. "But that's seen as insulting to the ones that are already there, because I think it feels a bit like 'you're telling us we're not good enough' or 'we're not clever enough' - it’s nothing to do with being clever. It’s about being ready to be a police officer in the 21st century.”

Mr Adderley highlighted an issue within his own force that new recruits were coming in unprepared for the level of violence the job can involve.

Dr McCartney said: “It’s not like they’re writing essays on colonial Britain – it’s all about operational policing.

“There is no wa

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