Police training in England and Wales is to be completely overhauled in the next three years, Personnel Today can reveal.
Police forces are trialling a more community-based approach to policing which would mean more time on the beat and less time in the classroom for new recruits. The move forms part of Labour’s key manifesto pledge of “a greater focus on community policing”.
Five constabularies are involved in piloting the new Initial Police Learning and Development Programme – Cleveland, West Midlands, Kent, North Wales and the Metropolitan Police.
The Home Office is evaluating the scheme but Martin Tiplady, HR director at the Met, said all police services would look to begin using the new programme in three to four years.
The new plan means recruits will only spend their first five weeks at training schools such as the Met’s famous Hendon facility, followed by 25 weeks working at police stations where training will include a mix of class-based learning and on-street duties.
Under the present training regime, potential officers spend 18 weeks in a classroom environment followed by a 10-week street duties course where they learn more about local procedures and put their training into practice.
The new model will allow officers to gain a better understanding of what community policing is all about earlier on, Tiplady said.
He said that the feedback from sergeants running the community-based schemes had been very positive. “These recruits are training in the environment where they will be working for the first three or four years of their careers,” Tiplady said. “At the end of the training they will be launched as a more fully-fledged officer – it will prepare them much more appropriately for what they have to do.”
Inspector Karl Rathbone, training delivery manager at North Wales police, agreed: “Recruits are better prepared for local workplace issues and are more confident,” he said. “The community also benefits as officers will be more visible.”
Martyn Sloman, training and development expert at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, warned that this kind of tailored training would only succeed if there were clear structures put in place.
“This approach requires recruits to be supported and continually challenged,” he said. “They need to be repeatedly questioned about what they are learning and how they can transfer this knowledge into their jobs.”