Police community support officers (PCSOs) should soon be able to use their existing training towards becoming real police constables, Personnel Today has learned.
The National Policing Improvement Agency, established in April to improve police technology and training, will conduct a review in 2008 about creating a national route for PCSOs to become police officers.
Shelagh O’Leary, learning and development service director at the NPIA, told Personnel Today certain training modules for PCSOs could be aligned nationally with PC training, so that once a PCSO has undertaken them, they count towards theit application to become a police officer.
“PCSOs in their duties develop a range of skills, and we train them,” she said. “The issue is: how can we give them some credit for that?
“They will still have to go through a recruitment process as all PCs do, but if they have prior training, can that count for something towards their police officer training? That’s something we’re going to be looking at over the next year, as to whether we can do that and how we can do that, on a national scale.”
O’Leary added: “It seems a sensible and cost-effective thing to do. There is no problem with attracting numbers of police, this is not an issue of restriction of applications.”
PCSOs have a distinct role from police officers, defined by The Police Reform Act. One of their main roles is to create uniformed presence and reassurance for the public, but they have no powers to arrest. Yet O’Leary said there are some common training themes.
The West Midlands police force is about to align PCSO training with that of PCs.
Since April, 100 West Midlands PCSOs have made the move to become police officers, and David Williams, director of personnel at the force, said it only makes sense to enable this to happen more easily in future.
“We’re aligning our training now so PCSO training gets credit to become a fully sworn police officer. We’re writing to all our PCSOs now to explain where our thinking is.
“People are coming in, liking what they see and feeling they can make the transfer to the full powers of a police officer. We’re realising it is a very clear career path with the 100 officers who have gone across, and so it is a very efficient thing to do to align training,” he added.
On average, PCSOs have been in their role for 18 months before becoming police officers. Student police officers (ie, those applying from scratch) take approximately six-nine months to train.