Police officers should be allowed protected time during their working day for professional learning, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has said.
The federation is calling for ‘Protected Learning Time’ (PLT) to be accessible to every police officer, among all ranks, as part of regular career and professional development.
Too often, however, forces view the idea of officers using some of their shift time to undertake learning negatively according to the federation. A change in culture and attitudes to learning and development was therefore needed, argued PFEW professional development lead Dave Bamber.
“People need to be trained properly and officers should not be expected to complete assessments in their own personal time or on their rest days,” he said.
“If training and developing officers is deemed important, then allocated time must be provided because if you don’t train people properly, you don’t develop them properly,” he added.
Last month the College of Policing released guidance to forces to support career progression. This recommended that forces should find better ways to help individuals make time for continuing professional development, performance conversations and other career development activity.
Among officers the college spoke to, not having enough time was cited as the biggest barrier to career progression.
“We are continuing to engage with the college and chief constables to press for PLT to be a requirement, as it is in other professions, especially in all proposals that come forward with regards to the way that police officers are supposed to operate,” said Bamber.
PFEW national chair Steve Hartshorn added that professional development needed to be a priority, even with the day-to-day pressures all forces face.
“I call upon chief constables, police and crime commissioners and the government to work with the Police Federation of England and Wales to ensure this happens. It is win-win strategy whereby the police service, officers, and the public will all benefit,” he said.