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Future of Initial Police Training: A University Perspective

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 11 Issue: 3 Dated: Autumn 2009 Pages: 294-305
Dominic A. Wood; Stephen Tong
Date Published
12 pages
This study examined issues in the debate on the police pre-employment training program (Student Officer Program) conducted by a university in England.
The SOP emerged under the new Initial Police Learning and Development Program (IPLDP), which had been adopted by all 43 Home Office police services in England and Wales by April 2006. This program does not imply university involvement in police training in any way, nor has university involvement in IPLDP been established as the norm. The Police Reform Act 2002, together with the introduction of IPLDP, gave the police services greater scope in choosing how to deliver training to new recruits. The SOP to which this paper refers was developed as one of five pilot schemes sanctioned by the Home Office in the early implementation of IPLDP nationally. It combined professional, academic, and competency-based learning, with an academic award provided in addition to the achievement of "fully qualified police officer" status. Despite moves toward greater university involvement in police training, serious doubters remain within the police. There are three main arguments against university involvement in police training. First, there is resistance to university "ownership" of the initial police training curriculum, given the need for police agencies to define what type of skills and knowledge their officers need. The second argument pertains to who owns the right to discipline student officers. Specifically, there is concern that university departments lack the necessary means of providing a sufficiently disciplined setting, given the hierarchical culture of police work and the more relaxed environment of liberal educational programs. Third, there is an issue of priorities in the management of student police officers regarding the appropriate balance between educational scheduling commitments and commitment to the demands of the operational duties of a serving police officer. There are many questions to be considered concerning what student officers need to learn and where best they should learn it; however, matters of curriculum cannot be addressed in a meaningful way unless the prior matter of resolving the status of student officers is resolved. 45 references