National Policing Improvement Agency

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Many, many years ago there was no standardised approach to the training of police officer recruits.  The shortcomings of such became more evident when there was a greater need for officers to be able to work in other force areas.  A constable in an English or Welsh force has the authority to use any of their powers throughout England and Wales at anytime of day or night; on duty or off-duty.


There have been many reviews of police training and in the early 2000s it was decided to introduce a new standardised training programme called the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP).  The outline of the programme was devised and owned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) but the content was written and owned by the individual police forces.  As a consequence, whilst there is a national programme, not all of it is mandatory and not all of it is designed and delivered to the same standard.   This means that officers in London, may actually receive different training or emphasis on training than some of their colleagues in other parts of the country.  Hence, some criminals that are prepared to travel across county boundaries are likely to come across inconsistencies in the way the police enforce certain laws.


In the 1980s, one Chief Constable declared that in his county there was no problem with illegal drugs whilst his peers were suffering considerably through the availability of them.


When asked how he had managed to suppress their existence in his county he stated that he had no idea.  His underlings knew all to well, it was because he had disbanded the force drug squad and chosen not to focus any of his resources on illegal drugs. Hence, there was no intelligence gathering so no idea as to what was out there and no enforcement to prosecute those responsible.  Thankfully, he retired many years ago.


To compound matters further, in line with government policies, most forces award their new officers with some kind of qualification in recognition of the work they have undertaken to learn how to do the job.  The level of this qualification has varied across the country with some officers gaining National Vocational Qualifications at Level 3 or 4, others being awarded foundation or full degrees.


This is about to change in the future once there has been widespread agreement at the Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) level as to what are the minimum requirements of any initial training course for recruits to the service.  This is in itself compounded as each force adopts various entry routes into the job.  In some forces, candidates for recruitment have to have gained a qualification first of all before they can even apply to join the police.  In other areas, potential recruits must have served as a Special Constable for at least 2 years.  Thankfully in most areas, theer has been a freeze on recruitment due to budget cuts.  This was anticipated to last for around 4 years – enough time to develop and implement a standardised approach.  However, some forces have actually started to recruit officers once again and so have had to go down their own programme route.


Even though one cop may well look just like any other across the country, they may not have been taught the same things or trained to the same level.  It may even be their first day on the streets, fresh out of the training school.



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