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Policing degrees and formal qualifications given green light

College board approved the plans following a consultation – but implementation may be some time away
Published - 14/12/2016 By - Helena Hickey - Police Oracle

Plans to introduce qualifications for policing have been given the green light but timescales for implementation of proposals are still to be set, the College of Policing has said.

Earlier this year, the College consulted on proposals for its Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) which includes three routes to joining the service – a practical policing degree paid for by the individual, a higher level apprenticeship combining on the job training and study and a graduate programme which would be paid for by the force.

The consultation found that just under a third of the 3,045 individuals responding to the survey were opposed to the overall proposals, with 40 per cent disagreeing there should be multiple entry routes into policing and 45 per cent in favour of the suggestion.

“Having different ways to enter the service will help make sure people don’t feel policing isn’t for them. I feel pretty confident this will do that. I think these are attractive routes to entry,” said Rachel Tuffin, Director of Knowledge at the College.

“Now we need to think carefully about when it is appropriate to implement these changes. The board has agreed the approach but said we need to consult on the timetable. I think there is a gradual way this will work for the policing system.

“There are likely to be pilot sites because there will be some who want to go earlier and if they are ready we won’t stand in their way.”

As previously reported, the Met has already expressed interest in the apprenticeship scheme and hopes to start as soon as possible – although the College says it is likely such programmes will not be available until April 2018.

The consultation also found respondents – 76 per cent of which were officers and 17 per cent police staff – were particularly clear that gaining a qualification should not be a pre-requisite to a particular role or rank, with just over half disagreeing with the statement there should be minimum education levels for each rank or level.

As a result, the College amended its proposal meaning officers will now have to gain a qualification following promotion, and will be confirmed in post on completion of that qualification.

This would include newly-promoted sergeants undergoing a 12-month higher-level apprenticeship in leadership and management while newly promoted inspectors will obtain a similar qualification at a higher standard – all of which would be paid for by the force.

The College said it “could not comment” on whether an individual’s salary would increase on promotion or on completion of the qualification, saying it was a matter for the pay review body to decide.

“This means that the professional development approach for every level will be much more structured and formal,” said Ms Tuffin.

“We know each individual will need to spend time doing work towards these qualifications and this will be done in work time. We have to make sure forces know this and that there is room for it to be done.”

The proposals also mean officers already in the service will be able to gain accreditation for their existing skills, with a directory of education qualifications set to be published in April next year which will show the number of credits that may be given in respect of on-the-job experience.  

This means officers and staff will have externally recognised and transferable skills should they decide to leave the service or when they retire.

“Officers will then be able to top-up their credits to gain a certain qualification – for example by doing a piece of research which would be useful to their force. We have to look at how we make space for that and make the resources available,” she added.

“Officers who have been in service for a while can see that not too far in the future having a recognised qualification can be of benefit for them. It gives people a chance to showcase their skills.”

The Police Federation previously raised concerns around the proposals – particularly the qualifications for entry – but says it has had some fears assuaged by the amended plans.

General Secretary Andy Fittes said: “The framework out today is a good start, and offers a look at what the service may look like in the future.

“We still have questions around the implementation and details of how aspects of the training would work. 

“There is a balance to be struck around encouraging people to have a certain level of education before joining the force, and marginalising and excluding good quality candidates from all communities by limiting the pool of potential candidates if they are unable to afford it.” 

Photo courtesty of David Goehring via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License.

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