Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Police Education in the United Kingdom: Challenges and Future Directions

Written By

M. Mahruf C. Shohel, Gias Uddin, Julian Parker-McLeod and Daniel Silverstone

Submitted: 05 March 2020 Reviewed: 02 May 2020 Published: 17 August 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.92705

From the Edited Volume

Education, Human Rights and Peace in Sustainable Development

Edited by Maigul Nugmanova, Heimo Mikkola, Alexander Rozanov and Valentina Komleva

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This chapter outlines the historical development of police education in the United Kingdom, more precisely in England and Wales, and highlights new strategies and planning for the professional development of the police. There is a plethora of research carried out regarding professionalism in policing to meet the needs and challenges of the twenty-first century. Considering the recent developments in police education and training, this chapter mainly discusses three newly introduced routes for recruitment and education of police constables under the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF), namely Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP), and Pre-Join Degree (PJD). Higher education institutions (HEIs), in partnership with the police forces, are providing professional qualifications for policing as a graduate level profession. Though they have made remarkable progress in developing police education programmes, they are facing various challenges in implementing the qualification framework. This chapter also explores pedagogical aspects of police education including the effectiveness and contrast between different forms of teaching and learning. While featuring the challenges and prospects of the new police education programmes, this chapter also outlines different aspects of partnership for delivering these professional qualification programmes.


  • police education
  • Policing Education Qualification Framework (PEQF)
  • Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA)
  • Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)
  • Pre-Join Degree (PJD)
  • United Kingdom

1. Introduction

In recent years, professionalisation has become a critical discourse [1, 2, 3, 4] for the development of police forces in the United Kingdom. As a result, moving away from traditional training programmes towards more formal higher education programmes has been seen as a way of progress to develop professionalism within the police force [5]. In light of recent development in the field of policing, modernisation became the key concern for workforce development to fulfil the demands of the twenty-first century. The changing nature of policing and the complexity of police work became an integral part of police studies discourse [6, 7]. Recent studies show that having a higher education degree tends to have a more significant impact on police officers’ knowledge and appreciation of the values and lifestyles of peoples from different cultures, especially minority groups and immigrants [8, 9]. Therefore, the professional academic education programme has been suggested as a vital tool for the development of police forces in the United Kingdom [10].

In February 2016, the College of Policing, the national professional body for policing in England and Wales, introduced the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) for developing academic programmes for the 43 police forces in England and Wales. The PEQF proposed different routes for providing education, namely Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP), and Pre-Join Degree (PJD), in professional policing practice [11, 12]. Student officers are recruited by the forces for the PCDA and DHEP routes on a salaried full-time 40 hours per week contract. Within their contract hours, they have to engage 20% of their time for off-the-job learning with a partner university, being students of an enrolled programme [12, 13].

Several police forces have already launched the PCDA programmes in partnership with several universities. On 7 September 2018, Nottinghamshire Police nationally pioneered the PCDA programme with their first cohort in partnership with the University of Derby. This initiative was followed by Derbyshire Police who then ran their first cohort of the PCDA programme with the same university. Then throughout the year in 2019, some other forces such as Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Gwent, Dyfed-Powys, West Midlands, Northumbria, Avon and Somerset, Staffordshire, Merseyside, and Sussex started running the PCDA programme [14]. These programmes, in fact, shifted the nature of police education and training with a particular focus on theoretical knowledge linking with the professional practice of police work with less or no emphasis on physical education. The primary mission for drastically changing police education and training is to make policing a graduate level occupation [14]. It is not only to replace the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) or give all officers a university degree, but also to make the officers academically and professionally sound for the complex challenges they face in contemporary policing.

It is not an easy task to transform the century-old traditional police training to the university education programmes over a period of 2–3 years. Due to this transition in developing professional qualifications, both the forces and the higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing challenges in tackling different practical and pedagogical issues in implementing new programmes. On the one hand, the police forces are traditionally conservative [15, 16, 17] as Reiner ([18], p. 130) claims that the majority of police officers are conservative ‘both politically and morally’ and the students of these programmes are the trainee officers of a disciplined force [19, 20]. On the other hand, universities are very much student-focused to ensure the best learning experience for every individual student and encourage them to be critical about their learning journey and broaden their horizons. To run an academic programme successfully, HEIs are required to comply with the frameworks of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and other funding requirements, for example from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as well as strictly maintaining academic regulations including Quality Assurance (QA) process and satisfy the Office for Students (OfS). Therefore, HEIs have to be in continuous conversations with the partner forces to solve the problems associated with teaching, delivery, and assessment as they arise.

Despite the fact that the Peelian objectives of policing were to ensure safety and security of person and property with the help of the community as well as prevent and detect crime [21], policing around the world became an ‘extraordinarily complex endeavour’ [22] due to changing demands and new challenges including technological advancement and changing patterns of crimes [23]. Police Officers do not spend a great deal of time in dealing with theft, robbery, and burglary that they did in the earlier days. Nowadays they deal with rapidly evolving crime threats such as terrorism, cybercrime, and serious and organised crime. Yet for the public, their role as citizens in uniform and bobbies on the beat as portrayed in the ever popular BBC series ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ (1955–1976) has not been lost as they still need to help the people whenever necessary. This is especially the case when austerity has meant a reduction to other public services in the UK leading to increasing demand on the police service, for example assistance with mental health-related incidents [24]. Yet, there was a saying ‘if you want to know the time, ask a policeman’ ([18], p. 78), people still call the police to help them with non-crime incidents even to buy some groceries for vulnerable residents.


2. Historical development of police education and training

The role of a police constable is one of the oldest professions in Great Britain as its history dates back to 1285 Statute of Winchester, attestation of constables following an Act of Parliament in 1673, Bow Street Runners of 1749, the establishment of the City of Glasgow Police in 1800 and finally the creation of a full-time formal police organisation for London, the Metropolitan Police, in 1829. However, the establishment of the Metropolitan Police, a brainchild of the then Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, who later served as a British Prime Minister, is seen as the introduction of the ‘modern’ public policing in the world; as a result, policing became a career that offered status and security at the end of the nineteenth century [25].

It was after 100 years since the establishment of the Metropolitan Police, serious efforts were made to develop police training. The Metropolitan Police College at Hendon was established in 1934 as a military-style institution with the intention to train the serving and newly recruited officers for senior rank. The idea originally came from the Indian Police Service (IPS) that used to recruit officers in senior ranks called probationer Assistant Superintendent of Police. The Assistant Commander of the College was seconded from the IPS. In five intakes, 188 officers were graduated from the college to become inspectors until the institution was closed in September 1939. The college was not re-opened in the same format after the Second World War. Instead, in June 1948, the new National Police College (known as the Police Staff College since 1979) was established at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry, to run different training courses for higher ranking officers with potentials to become senior police officers [26]. The college ran residential and non-residential junior, senior, and short courses and also overseas command courses for promising officers, and a scholarship scheme was available [27, 28].

Turning to the London Metropolitan Police ‘was the first modern police force in a nation with representative government’ ([29], ix) and the British bobbies ‘occupy a special place in the history of policing in the world’ and was ‘a role model of successful policing’ ([30], p. 435). The initial recruit training played a great role in turning an ordinary citizen into a uniformed policeman. The Metropolitan Police Training School for constables was established at Peel House in Regency Street, Pimlico in 1907, which was there until 1974, and the Metropolitan Police College in Hendon was rebuilt and opened in 1974, popularly known as the Peel Centre [31].

Historically, initial police training was known as the foundation training or basic police training in the UK, which was followed by police organisations around the world, in particular, in former British colonies. Many national police forces such as the Bangladesh Police still run the same initial police training for the new recruits. After World War II, the specialist cadet college for direct entry senior officers for the Metropolitan Police was turned into a Metropolitan Police Training School for recruit constables. The 17-week initial training was run at Hendon until 2007. However, since the 1960s, intense pressure to change the patterns of recruiting and training for the police force has led to an emphasis on recruiting graduates and since then support for higher education has grown [32, 33].

In addition to Hendon, organisations such as the National Police Training (NPT) (a Home Office unit established in 1993, following the Police Training Council’s recognition of problems with the arrangements for managing police training in 1992), the Central Police Training and Development Authority (CENTREX), and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) were involved in running the initial police training in England and Wales [34, 35]. The NPT aimed at bringing greater coherence to all police training establishments including the Police Staff College, Police Training Centres (PTCs), the Police National Computer School, a centre for the design of training and training of trainers at Harrogate and a centre for the training of surveillance techniques for National Crime Squad officers at Loughborough [36]. CENTREX took over from the NPT in 2002 [37] and ran the Probationer Training Programme at six PTCs in various parts of the country, namely Bruche, Ashford, Durham, Bramshill, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, and Cwmbran. In 2007, the functions of CENTREX were merged with the NPIA, which was dissolved in 2013 and the newly established College of Policing took over some of its responsibilities.

In 2006, the new 26-week IPLDP was introduced and it became the responsibility of the respective police forces to train the newly recruited constables. Since 2010, a level 3 qualification called Diploma in Policing was awarded to the recruits upon successful completion of the IPLDP training, which used to run week by week in four phases, that is induction, community placement, supervised patrol, and independent patrol. The academic qualifications proposed by the PEQF have been gradually replacing IPLDP and it is expected that by 2020 all the forces in England and Wales will run the PEQF programmes1. However, the Metropolitan Police is still in the process of implementing the PEQF and it is expected to run the PCDA and DHEP programmes from September 2020.

Following the government White Paper ‘Policing A New Century—A Blueprint for Reform’ [38], the report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) entitled ‘Training Matters’ [39] and BBC’s the Panorama show entitled ‘The Secret Policeman’ (2003) that exposed racism in the regional Police Training Centre at Bruche had a significant impact on the long-lasting police training. As a result, the government came forward to reform the initial police training. Charman ([35], p. 73) argues that:

‘What the HMIC report “Training Matters” (2002) and the 2003 screening of the BBC documentary “The Secret Policeman” revealed was that both the formal and informal training of new police recruits needed a radical overhaul’.

The creation of the College of Policing in 2012 as well as the Coalition government’s approval of the professionalisation agenda of policing and recognition of policing as a graduate level occupation led to the introduction of the PEQF in 2016. It is worth mentioning that as an indirect impact of this new professional body, the world famous Police Staff College, which was relocated to Bramshill in 1960 from Ryton-on-Dunsmore, popularly known as Bramshill, was closed in 2015 where many senior police officers from the UK and Commonwealth countries have undergone professional development training since 1948.

In 2017, the Police Minister Brandon Lewis MP while speaking at the PEQF conference identified the successes of the College of Policing in introducing a code of ethics, beginning a culture of continuous professional development (CPD), continually growing the body of professional knowledge, and establishing the final pillar through the PEQF as standards of professional qualification for policing. The Minister identified the implementation of the PEQF in cooperation with HEIs as ‘a really big challenge’ and justified the argument for professionalisation of policing as he stated that:

‘... to those who say that policing isn’t and shouldn’t be a graduate job, I would ask you to just pause for a moment and encourage you to challenge that thought. Because policing needs to be prepared to meet the challenges of the future and the PEQF aims to give officers access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a fast changing environment’ ([40], online).


3. Professionalisation agenda: policing as a graduate level occupation

The notion of the police as a profession is not new [41]. Across different professions, professionalism is changing and being challenged and changed as professionals now increasingly work at scale [42]. However, the policing professionalisation agenda of the College of Policing and the ‘Policing Vision 2025’ recognise policing as a graduate level occupation similar to those professions requiring specialist degrees in the relevant subjects such as doctor, social worker, and teacher [43]. This ‘Policing Vision 2025’ has been developed by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) in consultation with the College of Policing, National Crime Agency, staff associations, and other policing and community partners. Neyroud [44] refers to a new professionalism in policing in England and argues that it focuses on improving and developing effective practice and building partnerships between higher education and police practitioners.

It is imperative that as a professional, police officers must be allowed a high degree of individual autonomy and they should have independence of judgement. The common elements of any profession to serve in a professional manner include a specialist knowledge and ethical practice related to that profession, scope for CPD, and certain standards set out to educate for that profession [45, 46]. But critics argued that knowledge-based policing in practice promotes a concept of knowledge that indirectly threatens the police officers’ traditional experience-based knowledge and professional discretion [47].

According to the College of Policing [13], there is a lack of consistency in relation to nationwide educational background or qualifications for all roles or ranks within the police forces, which provide knowledge and skills to meet the current and future challenges. It also says that:

‘PEQF aims to bring consistent practice in terms of the implementation, assessment and accreditation of initial police training across the 43 forces in England and Wales. This consistency can contribute to the professionalism of the police service and put policing in line with other professions with regard to its formal education standards’ ([13]: Online).

It noted that the PEQF supports the NPCC and APCC’s ‘Policing Vision 2025’ that ‘By 2025 policing will be a profession with a more representative workforce that will align the right skills, powers and experience to meet challenging requirements’ ([13], online).

After long consultations, the College of Policing introduced the PEQF and three routes to recruit police constables. Before the PEQF, the IPLDP was introduced in 2006 as a level 3 Diploma in Policing [48] that replaced the Foundation Training (still carried out by many police organisations around the world), which is still in use in some forces including the largest force London Metropolitan Police.

For clarity, it is worth mentioning here that Scottish Police runs Police Officer Recruit Training in line with the Police Scotland National Framework for Quality Assurance in Training and Education and therefore they are not part of the PEQF. Police Service of Northern Ireland runs its own foundation training for the recruit constables at the Northern Ireland Police College, which includes a 23-week Student Officer Training Programme that follows attestation ceremony and Probationer Development Programme. Due to the length, discussion about these programmes is beyond the scope of this chapter.


4. Current development

4.1 Policing Vision 2025: graduate level occupation

In 2016, the College of Policing announced that new police officers in England and Wales would have to be educated to degree level from 2020 onwards [49] as the ‘Policing Vision 2025’ recognises policing as a graduate level occupation. With record numbers of British students attending universities, it would be the best opportunity for preparing the next-generation professional on police studies. A formal possession of specialised knowledge credentials is considered as a key characteristic for the enclosure of a profession [50]. That is why Livingstone and Antonelli ([51], p. 26) argue that ‘The most powerful professions have historically used the requirement of a high level of academic education as a primary criterion for entry into the profession’. They also highlight that:

‘University training programs have been the most pertinent vehicles for providing codified professional knowledge and of testing potential entrants to verify they have obtained a basic grasp of the body of knowledge of the respective professional discipline’ ([51], p. 26).

As an advocate of the professional model, Stone recommends that ‘a college or university degree (or comparable educational qualification) to be adopted as the basic educational requirement of a professional police officer’ [52]. Providing the Government of the UK learns its lesson from cutting funding in Nursing and ensures sufficient financial support for all new Policing students, HEIs could be able to train 5000 new police officers a year, based on last year’s intake into the police force [51]. It is expected that ‘By 2025 British policing will have risen effectively to new challenges and will continue to be highly regarded by both the British public and internationally as a model for others’ ([52], p. 5).

The recommendations of Neyroud Report (2011) [53] ‘represent a fundamental overhaul of existing practices’ ([53], p. 67). From these recommendations, Stanislas [54] focuses on four specific recommendations ([53], pp. 47-48) such as ‘full professionalisation of the police which in his view is critical to improving its status, clarifying areas of accountability and meeting public expectations’; establishment of a single professional body responsible for important aspects of policing, which will set national standards for entry and progression within the service, in particular a new pre-entry national qualification and a new qualification for police managers; and finally that ‘the police training and education be devolved outside the police training establishment and delivered in partnership with HEIs and specialist police training centres’ ([53], p. 67).

4.2 Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF)

In 2012, the College of Policing was established as a national professional body to improve police training in England and Wales drastically. There were arguments from academics and professionals for acknowledging policing as a graduate level occupation similar to doctors, teachers, and social workers who need a relevant degree to be qualified for their job [55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61]. From this realisation, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, was in favour of this major shift and asked the College of Policing to develop a qualification framework for police officers to get a relevant degree.

David Cameron’s coalition government (2010–2015) approved this qualification framework. Wood ([62], p. 1) argued that the development of the PEQF was ‘Bolstered by the recommendations of Neyroud [53] and Winsor [63], both of which promoted closer collaboration between policing and academia’ in their reports of two government reviews entitled ‘Review of Police Leadership and Training’ [53] and ‘The Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions’ [63].

4.3 Partnership between forces and universities

In building the evidence base in policing, it is very important to ensure that police officers can develop their skills, build their knowledge and expertise about what really works in policing and crime reduction so that they can put it into their practice [64, 65]. Through the partnerships, the police forces will be trained by the experts from a wide range of academic disciplines including policing, criminology, criminal justice, forensics, law, psychology, and cyber security from HEIs [66]. They will be able to learn new skills, understand more about why crimes are committed, the relationship between crime and society, and use that evidence in innovative ways in their policing practice. However, the aim is to establish long-term partnerships between police forces and HEIs to deliver a recognised body of knowledge, evidence, and expertise on policing and crime reduction, and have the potential to meet the needs of the challenging environment through innovative solutions [67, 68].

There are many partnerships across the UK between a police force and a university or a consortium of universities with several forces. Universities or consortiums need to bid to obtain a contract to provide education and training programmes, for example for 5 years with a force to provide their services. A force cannot award the contract to a local university without a competitive bidding process. Several successful procurement processes have already been run. So, for instance, Cumbria Constabulary and Lancashire Constabulary went for a joint tender and the contract was awarded to the University of Central Lancashire. Liverpool John Moores University obtained a partnership contract from Merseyside Police. It established the Liverpool Centre for Advanced Policing Studies (2015) and provides teaching to the trainee officers of their local force. University of West of England received the PEQF contract from Avon and Somerset Constabulary while the University of Northumbria runs similar programmes for Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police [69, 70].

Some universities individually received contracts with several forces while some HEIs formed consortiums and are in contract with several forces. For example, Staffordshire University is running the PEQF programmes for four forces in the Midlands, that is Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia, and West Midlands, and their academic staff travel to the forces’ headquarters [71]. The Police Education Consortium has been formed by four universities, namely the University of Middlesex, the University of Cumbria, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Portsmouth, which is in a contract with Surrey and Sussex Police and Hampshire Constabulary to run the PCDA programme and DHEP.

In November 2019, Babcock International, an engineering organisation in the security and defence sector, which also offer recruitment services, received the £309m worth contract valid until 2028 as the learning partner of the London Metropolitan Police [72]. They formed a consortium with four universities namely Brunel University London, the University of West London, the University of East London, and Anglia Ruskin University to teach the newly recruited officers of the largest police service in the UK with 31,746 police officers (as of March 2020) and 25% of the budget for the police in England and Wales [73].

Regarding the current partnerships, one of the interesting observations is that only the post-92 universities came forward to develop police partnerships and run the PCDA programme and DHEP. Most of those involved such as Middlesex, Portsmouth, and Liverpool John Moores University have long-standing reputation for teaching and researching policing, criminology, and criminal justice. However, some HEIs without an established presence in teaching and research in policing, criminology, and criminal justice stepped in for the PCDA programme and DHEP.

This partnership is an opportunity for HEIs to support the police services for professional development of their officers through enhanced education techniques and research-informed teaching utilising an established evidence base. It is one of the main reasons for the universities to develop their partnerships with the police forces to design, develop, and deliver these academic programmes. Undoubtedly as part of these contracts, HEIs will receive a considerable number of students as the police forces are continuously recruiting to meet their recruitment targets. In addition to regular recruitments, the Government promised (publicly known as ‘Boris 20,000’) to recruit extra 20,000 new police officers [74], which is again an extra boost for both the forces and HEIs. In fact, the partner HEIs will receive several cohorts of student officers throughout the year and they need to be flexible concerning the start date of the cohorts and compromise their traditional term dates to accommodate several intakes in an academic year.

4.3.1 Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) programme

The PCDA is a 3-year apprenticeship degree programme titled BSc (Honours) Professional Policing Practice for someone who has already completed their A levels or BTEC at level 2 and 3 or who are the former members of the Armed Forces. To enrol for this work-based learning programme where the uniformed students will study alongside their operational duties, one needs to join as a police officer first and then pursue the 3-year course as apprentices and will progress from academic level 4 to level 6 (degree level) when student officers need to spend 20% of their contract hours for their academic learning. However, this is a requirement set out by the College of Policing, which is different to the funding rules within the PCDA set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This 20% protected learning time has been seen very much as an abstraction issue rather than how it is as an ‘investment in learning and development’. This 20% has become a significant barrier in the development of some programmes and disproportionately influenced the design of some programmes. This again hampers the opportunity to reach the full potential and development opportunities of these programmes and partnerships.

This is an opportunity for someone who wants to earn £20,880 per annum (varied from force to force) while achieving a professional degree in government’s expenses [75]. Entry requirements also vary from force to force. However, within the Derbyshire Constabulary, the entry requirements for policing apprenticeship is Level 2 Qualification in Maths and English (Grade C/4 and above), for example GCSE, Functional Skills and a Level 3 Qualification (A-level or equivalent) equal to 64 UCAS points for anyone aged between 18 and 55 years and the UK, EU, or Commonwealth citizen with no restrictions on leave to remain in the UK [75].

The College of Policing has outlined the National Police Curriculum (NPC) for the three new routes to become a police constable under the PEQF, and HEIs in consultation with their partner force(s) develop their programme and modules in line with the national curriculum for the PCDA, DHEP, and Pre Join degree in Professional Policing Practice and obtain approval from the college [76]. Even officers and police trainers are involved in developing learning materials. However, the name of the modules may not be the same. But the overall programme and modules need to fulfil the requirements of the NPC. Williams et al. ([77], p. 260) are critical about the development of the curriculum that ‘on implementation, academia has a responsibility to develop police education in ways that it can achieve this critical feature of the PEQF’ and indicate ‘a risk of limiting the opportunities provided by the PEQF to deliver a real change to current police training unless the curriculum includes wider forms of knowledge, from the historical research on policing to the evaluative research tantamount to the “what works” agenda’. However, the NPC is very prescriptive about what should be taught and as a result of this prescriptive nature, this could prevent all the benefits of higher education being accessed by the students who undertake these programmes. This is particularly relevant where the PCDA is compared to the DHEP as same content is delivered at different levels.

As prescribed by the NPC, the 3-year programme will be divided into several phases, which is a very traditional approach to delivery. For example, at the beginning of the PCDA student officers will continue 22 weeks of learning that will follow guided practical learning with a one-to-one mentor for 10 weeks. In addition to reflective practice and formative assessment, students’ operational progression will be assessed continuously while summative assessments will be done for every module. However, it is very important to move forward from this prescribed delivery approach by adapting a more work-integrated professional practice approach [78].

Programme design and development vary from university to university. Some HEIs run the following modules for their PCDA programmes, which starts gradually some from the beginning, some during the company period when officers will learn more about practical policing with their employer and some modules when they achieve independent patrol status to become operational:

Modules: (Titles of the modules could be different offered by different universities or partnerships. For example, following modules are offered by a university of a partnership).

Year 1 (level 4): 6 modules (6x20= 120 credits): Introduction to Policing, Studying Criminology, Community Policing, Operational Policing, Vulnerability, and Reflective Practice Based Learning.

Year 2 (level 5): 6 modules (6x20= 120 credits): Policing, Operational Policing 2, Community Policing 2, Vulnerability 2, Studying Criminology 2, and Reflective Practice Based Learning 2.

Year 3 (level 6): 3 modules (2 compulsory modules and one specialist module) and a project (2x20+40+40= 120 credits): Coaching and mentoring; Professional Policing Competence; one specialist module (such as Response policing, Community policing, Roads policing, Information and Intelligence, and Investigation) (This is worth 40 credits); and Professional Policing Practice Project. (This is similar to undergraduate dissertation as the preparation towards the final End Point Assessment (EPA), which will include submission of the project and a presentation to be assessed finally. However, confirmation of permanent employment as a fully operational police constable is subject to successful completion of EPA).

Some other partnership developed the PCDA programme in slightly different way, for example Derbyshire Constabulary adopted the following 3-year programme (Table 1).

Year 1
Academic Level 4
Operational Deployment
Tutor Patrol Phase
Obtain Independent Patrol Status
Year 2
Academic Level 5
Response Policing
Community Policing
Policing the Roads
Information and Intelligence
Conducting Investigations
Year 3
Academic Level 6
Specialism from Year 2
Evidence Based Research Project
Academic Assessment
Reflective Presentation and Panel Discussion
Operational Competence Portfolio

Table 1.

Adopted from Derbyshire Constabulary ([75], online).

Currently, faculty members from partnership universities go to police headquarters to teach and tripartite review of the PCDA students in makeshift temporary classrooms. Blended learning approaches are used to provide learning support including delivering little face-to-face master classes, and making all teaching and learning materials available to students via online workbooks and reading lists. Student constables rely upon their handheld devices, that is iPads and laptops connected via Wi-Fi access at force headquarters, police stations where they are attached for their field training and also at their home as the trainee officers stay at home and travel to police headquarters and police stations.

4.3.2 Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)

The DHEP is a 2-year Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice programme in academic level 6. This programme is for the newly recruited constables who have a university degree in any subject except in policing. They pursue this 2-year course to learn the theoretical knowledge of policing while they in fact apply their knowledge in operational policing. The student officers recruited under the DHEP pursue work-based learning while they work as trainee officers with respective forces in various locations. They can access the online learning materials including audio-visual materials and use them at any time from any location and can engage in their academic learning activities. They earn £24,177 per annum (varied from force to force) as an officer from day one while they pursue on and off-the-job learning through this graduate diploma programme at the expense of the government during their probation period [79].

Some forces post attractive videos as part of their recruitment campaign, which outlines the recruitment process in particular how the candidates will spend half a day at the force’s assessment or recruitment centre undertaking a written test, taking part in role-play, and finally being interviewed to become a police officer [80]. Fast track detectives are also recruited under the DHEP and they follow the same syllabus except learning one or two specialist modules and spending a significant period of time at specialist departments such as CID (Criminal Investigation Department). It is understood that the forces received overwhelming response from the potential detectives for the exciting and challenging Fast-Track Detective Development Programme [81]. However, confirmation of permanent employment as a police constable is subject to the successful completion of the course. Structure of this graduate diploma programme is described below:

Modules: Total of 6 modules (may run throughout the course), each module weight 20 credits and requires 20x10= 200 study hours.

Year 1(level 6): 3 modules (3x20 credits): Policing in Context; Communities, Intelligence and Information; Law, Policy and Practice.

Year 2 (level 6): 3 modules (3x20 credits): Ethics and the Policing Professional; Advance Policing Skills; and one policing in practice specialism module from the following Response Policing; Community Policing; Roads Policing; Information and Intelligence; and Investigation. Finally, the completion of a portfolio as an evidence of Full Operational Competence is required to become a fully operational police officer.

4.3.3 Pre-Join Degree (PJD) programme

This PJD programme is a standard 3-year university degree programme entitled BSc (Hons) in Professional Policing. The prospective police officers pursue this course at their own expense and upon successful completion of the degree they can apply to join any police force in England and Wales. They need to learn theoretical knowledge of policing, criminology, and criminal justice as well as various aspects of operational policing over 3 years.

Year 1 (level 4): 6 modules (6x20 credits): Understanding the role of a police constable; Policing, decisions and ethics; Policing vulnerability in contemporary society; Police Legislation; Information and Intelligence; Academic skills and applied social sciences.

Year 2 (level 5): 6 modules (6x20 credits): Operational policing; Professionalism, Values and Standards; Vulnerability and risks; Specialist procedures; Academic research skills; Criminological concepts.

Year 3 (level 6): 6 modules (6x20 credits): Coaching and mentoring; Response policing; Community policing; Specialism—Police investigation; Specialism—Information; and Intelligence; Dissertation.

4.4 Cultural change

The police role was heavily criticised in dealing during Miner’s strike (1984-85), Brixton riot (1981), Hillsborough tragedy (1989), and Stephen Lawrence’s murder (1993). Reiner [13] noted that despite initial opposition of the establishment of the Metropolitan Police by the London working class, the police achieved legitimacy over 100 years (1856–1959) through ‘policing by consent’, but he argued that the police again lost public’s trust and confidence for its politicisation in 1960. It again deteriorated after the Metropolitan Police was labelled for being institutionally racist by Sir Macpherson in his report [82] on Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the Metropolitan Police’s total failure in dealing with the investigation was exposed in this unprovoked racial attack in South London.

In the context of strong criticism of police application of unreasonable force against the protesters in the 1960s and 1970s, the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure in its report (1981) proposed specific legislation and code for police work to ensure its accountability and as a result the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) was introduced with specific codes for police conduct. Following the Brixton riots (1981), Lord Scarman Report (1981) identified socio-economic factors for violent protest. Policing became a political agenda when Tony Blair declared during the 1997 election campaign that labour would be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. He introduced the ‘Crime and Disorder Act 1998’ just after the election that included Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ABSO) in section 1 and later brought the ‘Police Reform Act 2002’.

In answering the question ‘Why degree level education?’, the College of Policing justified that the existing recruit training (IPLDP) was not designed to meet the demands of policing to analyse and solve the complex problems where officers have to make difficult decisions and take responsibility for their actions. However, the serving officers mostly learn to do these on the job with additional training. The new academic professional qualifications ‘will give probationary officers the best chance of reaching the level of expertise found in serving officers’ ([13]: Online). The college further explains the nature of the new programmes:

‘The empathy, compassion and common sense needed in policing will be supported, not replaced by the new programmes, and will allow officers to get recognition for the complexity of their job’ ([13]: Online).

It is expected that through the higher education programmes, police education and training will make expected changes for developing professionalism with the policing practice and make a cultural shift [83, 84, 85].

4.5 Challenges of newly introduced academic programmes

As has been mentioned, the idea of introducing academic qualifications for policing was challenged by the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire in July 2019 arguing that it will put an extra burden on the police forces due to time and resource constraints [86]. The review petition relied on the academic argument of Brown ([8], p. 9) that ‘the current body of research evidence is methodologically weak and there remains a gap in the literature for the provision of a convincing, unambiguous empirical case demonstrating the value added by graduates to policing’. The High Court rejected the application for permission for judicial review of the PEQF in December 2019. However, it is still in a very early stage to determine the success and failure of the three newly introduced routes [87, 88].

Several HEIs started running the College of Policing’s approved 3-year Pre-Join degree BSc (Honours) in Professional Policing degree programmes from September 2019. As it is run as a regular academic programme by the universities, licensed by the College of Policing that approve the universities’ programmes in line with the syllabus given by them, it will be easier to successfully run the course. But it is difficult for the HEIs to recruit enough university staff with experience of operational policing, and knowledge of policing, criminology, and law to run this degree programme.

There is no alternative for the student police officers to learn both on-the-job and off-the-job as they need to learn the operational aspects, that is the real-life policing as well as theoretical aspects of policing to apply the knowledge to the relevant police work [89]. It is anticipated that there is a division of labour between the HEI and the force, although how this is implemented in practice varies across the country. However, in summary, the force is expected to deliver basic training such as how to handcuff suspects while the HEI is to provide the evidence base and critical arguments concerning their efficacy. It is rather like a driving theory and practical tests that one needs to successfully go through to be allowed to drive vehicles on the road to ensure his/her own safety as well as the safety of the other road users. Therefore, the nature and scope of the PCDA and DHEP courses and learning are characteristically different from regular degree courses as these involve students gaining knowledge, acquiring skills, and developing attitudes and behaviours to prepare themselves to face the challenges of modern-day policing.

As a profession-oriented course, the PEQF programmes are aimed to prepare professional police officers and one of the major challenges the teachers face is in bringing ‘the field into the classroom’ and ‘the classroom to the field’ [90]. Incorporation of practice is essential in professional degree courses. It is proven that successful professional courses need to integrate theory and practice to bring the field into the classroom as well as take the classroom into the field [91]—so that student officers can learn theoretical knowledge about crime and policing as well as legislation and procedures in the classroom and return to field learning at their units. Following application of their knowledge in practical policing, students can pursue further learning online and come back to the classroom. According to Wrenn and Wrenn [92], then they share their experience with their tutors or trainers and ask, ‘How did you handle that?’ Following further discussions the teacher can present more scenarios and ask them, ‘What would you do in a case like that?’ ([92], p. 259). The trainee officers find this method is really helpful and effective for learning as Boud et al. [93] suggest that when an example from one's own experience is shared learning occurs. Therefore, emphasis on experience is hugely significant rather than mere listening. As a result, ‘the theory becomes clearer and more easily applicable to the real cases they face in a practice situation’ ([92], p. 259).

Practice needs to be embedded in knowledge only Pre-Join Degree in Professional Policing, however, critical reflective thinking also needs to be embedded in the overall academic programmes based on the PEQF [10]. As degrees in Professional Policing Practice are professional and service-related studies, the main focus is not only to learn theories but also to learn how to apply the theories in practice. Hutchings ([94], p. 1) argues that ‘What’s at stake is the capacity to perform, to put what one knows into practice’ to help students develop as professionals who are able to deal with real-world problems [95]. In learning programmes such as police education, the ability to gain and utilise knowledge from practice [96] and skill building [97] is pivotal as the best learning environment is created when experience and knowledge are integrated within a course such as the DHEP and PCDA.

Experience of police training in various parts of the world shows that the police students prefer on-the-job training to academic studies such as driving police vehicles, shadowing patrol teams, or practising situations for quick and better understanding of practical policing [98]. Therefore, bringing field experience to the classroom of the DHEP and PCDA learners is mandatory as the popularity of reality TV shows proves that people prefer watching other's lives unfold. Enhanced learning models should be applied in police training so that learning can be made relevant, useful, and effective by bringing the real world of policing into the classroom. This will create an opportunity to stimulate the innovative, common sense, and dynamic learners as McCarthy [99] emphasises on educating the ‘whole brain’ in addition to educating all types of learners. Most importantly, student officers' voices should be heard and their views should be taken into account in planning, designing, and delivering these academic programmes. Their learning expectations should also be considered as the potential police officers consider policing as a job as practical, exercised on the street, close to people, and with hands-on duties rather than sitting behind an office desk [100]. At the same time, it needs to be appreciated that the aim of the newly introduced three routes of police recruitment is to ultimately help to develop police studies as a well-established academic discipline.

Wrenn and Wrenn ([92], p. 258) argued that ‘Educators in professional or service-related fields desire their students not only to learn theory and understand why theories are important but also to learn how to apply the theoretical frameworks in practice’. This is absolutely applicable in the case of teaching and learning in Professional Policing Practice degree programmes. Lecturers and police trainers should assist the students to learn how to apply their knowledge and skills in practical policing and help them to develop their attitude and behaviours accordingly. Integration of practice and theory is the central consideration of all learning [93] and students learn by doing and solving problems in real-life contexts [101, 102]. Rief ([103], p. 53) noted that students retain ‘10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and 90% of what they say and do’. A study by Kramer et al. [104] found that students taught by a practising faculty member scored higher as Good and Schubert [105] argue that they are able to relate theory to practice effectively. Genuine knowledge, understanding, and skills derive not from abstract thoughts, but rather by integrating thinking and practical application of the same.

Undoubtedly an active learning environment enhances the integration of practice and theory in the classroom involving students [106]. However, a substantial amount of materials provided for these academic programmes is self-learning materials access through Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is, therefore, essential to make the online learning materials more interactive as most of the time the trainee officers have to engage with their online materials. These also need to be presented in an organised way so that student officers from diverse academic backgrounds find the provided materials user-friendly and to help them to bridge their knowledge and skill gaps to provide a comfortable and enjoyable learning experience.

Because of the nature and structure of these programmes, different blending learning approaches are useful as the students can access their learning materials at any time from anywhere [107]. Apart from online live sessions, all electronic course materials could be downloaded in their devices and used offline. However, for online access they would require internet connection whether they are at their homes or workplaces (police headquarters or police stations). In practice, some may struggle to have uninterrupted broadband access and some of them struggle to obtain proper connections at police premises due to existing restrictions.

In Australia, Charles Sturt University works with the NSW Police Academy where university lecturers and experienced police trainers teach and run university courses and officers are awarded a degree by the university. Police trainers need to involve students in the classroom and keep in mind that an active learning environment enhances the integration of practice and theory in the classroom by engaging students. As part of online learning and face-to-face master classes, students need to be involved in various activities as activities allow students to clarify, question, consolidate, and appropriate new knowledge [108]. However, although experience may be the foundation of learning, it does not automatically lead to it [93] and experiences alone is not enough for learning to take place and it requires a theoretical base.

Unlike previous contents for police training, the modules developed for the PEQF programmes highlight vulnerability, legitimacy, equality, diversity, and ethical issues along with the National Decision Model [109]. These are the changes that highlight transformation of police education, in particular to prepare the newly recruited officers with necessary knowledge and skills to fulfil demands of time as well as to develop their skills, attitudes, and behaviours to bring them outside the traditional rank and file mindset and police culture.


5. Major challenges

5.1 Leadership of the partnership

One of the key issues about the nature of partnership related to the leadership could be a challenge. There could be debates whether this academic and professional partnership should be led by HEIs or the police forces. In most cases, these are HEIs which lead the partnerships so that they can comply with the national Apprenticeship Standard for the PCDA programme [110]. Some forces may choose co-delivery approach and some may decide for their programme to be the police force led where they will develop course materials in line with the NPC and will be approved by the partner HEIs. In those cases, the main workload will be on the partner forces to implement the programme. Questions may be raised about the quality assurance and student learning experience of this type of programme. Within the HEIs, there are discussions whether the PCDA, DHEP, and Pre-Join degree programmes should be led by a pure academic or a practitioner-turned-academic as they are involved in curriculum design, development of course materials, coordinating modules and assessments, and running the overall programme. However, they need to decide on the availability of people with relevant knowledge, skills, and experience. The differing partnerships may also raise issues in regards to the uniformity of delivery across the country.

5.2 University faculty recruitment

There has been a reduction in the number of police officers, trainers, and training facilities [111, 112]. To address the shortage of police officers, when the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in 2019 to recruit 20000 new officers for the police forces across the country, neither the police forces, nor the HEIs were prepared although some universities in the UK have a long-standing working relationship with the police service as they helped the forces in developing their training programmes ([54], pp. 62-63). Though the College of Policing welcome the policing pledge to address the shortage of police officers by recruiting 20,000 new officers, but warned of ‘logistical challenges’ at the time to achieve the goal, following the closure of police stations across the country as well as concerns over the lack of training instructors [113]. In particular it is argued here that there is a scarcity of academics in policing and practitioners-turned-academics into policing as there is a shortage of suitable teaching staff. Against the advertisement for recruiting faculty members, the response rate is very low. HEIs need a good number of staff to run the PCDA programme and DHEP.

As part of the role, the academic staff, that is programme leader, module leaders, and work-based tutors and assessors need to travel to the police forces’ premises. Therefore, it is a mandatory requirement for them to go through level 2 Non-Police Personnel Vetting (NPPV) or Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) process by the relevant forces. Some academics may not be necessarily willing to go through the process, which will ultimately limit their access and contribution to the police headquarters, police stations as well as specialised software such as Aptem as access is strictly maintained by the forces. Students will have access to the College of Policing’s Managed Learning Environment (MLE) for further reading such as Authorised Professional Practice (APP) in addition to HEI’s VLE, for example BlackBoard, Canvas, or Moodle for online learning materials.

Some HEIs are in favour of recruiting former police officers and in some cases officers from the same force they are in a contract with as they know the force well. While other HEIs are in favour of recruiting pure academics and practitioner-turned-academics to lead the programme and modules by ensuring academic standards. They argue that police trainers are enough to teach the practical aspects of policing and, therefore, ex-cops are not necessarily important to link theory into practice. In the context of police education in the USA, Sherman [114, 115] recommends based on a 2-year national study that full-time faculty members with PhD should be employed, not to make prior criminal justice experience as one of the essential criteria for recruiting faculties to run the academic programmes. However, there is a set of factors, as we are discussing in this chapter, for understanding the processes linking demands for further development in police education and practices [54].

As an example, Babcock International recruited lecturers and tutors, a mixture of former police officers and traditional academics, to run the PEQF programmes in conjunction with the consortium universities in London. Some universities are still in the process of recruiting programme leaders and module leaders and are facing difficulties due to lack of suitable candidates. Moreover, other universities also recruit teaching and research staff with similar backgrounds to run their existing programmes in criminology, policing, and criminal justice as this is a rapidly expanding subject area. Jones ([116], p. 232) noted that ‘in 2015, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) identifies 48 higher education institutions (HEIs) in England and Wales offering undergraduate policing degree programmes’. HEIs also need to recruit work based tutor and assessor to help the module leaders and police trainers in particular to do tripartite reviews of the PCDA and DHEP students and to provide them pastoral support.

5.3 Tripartite engagement and collaboration

Pursuing an effective tripartite review involving three parties, namely the student officer, university, and the police force (employer) is a major challenge for the successful continuation of the PCDA. Although there is no such mandatory requirement for the DHEP, it will use the best practice of the PCDA to pursue tripartite review. Academic staff and work-based tutor-assessors face practical difficulty to travel to various locations of police units in the force area, where the student officers are attached, to run face-to-face tripartite review. Throughout the tripartite engagement and collaboration, the complex process of quality assurance to satisfy both HEI regulations and College of Policing requirements is a real challenge in addition to meeting the requirements of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education that approved the PCDA programme for delivery in March 2018 and Office for Students [117]. The effective relationship between university staff (i.e. lecturers, module coordinators, or programme leaders) and police trainers is very important for this tripartite engagement and collaboration.

5.4 Diversity and recruitment

Since Macpherson’s report published in 1999, there is still significant challenge for the police service to diversify its profile. The expectation of the NPCC is that by 2025 policing will be a profession with a more diverse workforce which mirrors the UK’s population. While there has been a large increase in the numbers of female officers over time, there are still ongoing issues in regards to the recruitment of BAME staff and in particular black police officers. For example, in London, the Met head of recruitment, Clare Davies [118] commented, “If we continue even with the great progress we’ve made it would take over 100 years to be representative” of London. Currently, 58.4% of black people live in London, a population of between 1.1 and 1.2 million. Black people make up 15.6% of London’s population whereas they number only 3.3% of metropolitan police officers. The PEQF routes should be an excellent opportunity for this community as for black Londoners, on average in 2016, 8% of first-year undergraduates across the UK were black. In the same year, London has the highest proportion of black students, making up 17% of students overall [119]. However, initial impressions from recruitment outside of London are not positive as the initial cohorts do not reflect this aspiration for diversity.

Although, the Macpherson’s report recommended the recruitment of more black officers and this has been followed by further diversity initiatives, it is still the case that either members of the BAME community are not able to satisfy the criteria and successfully go through the selection process or more likely, are not willing to serve in the force. Nevertheless, forces are still encouraging application from under-represented black and ethnic minority candidates to apply to become a police constable [79]. Apart from diversity in recruitment, interestingly some forces received a tremendous response for fast track detective roles [120].

5.5 Higher education sector-wide engagement

According to the Guardian’s list of top universities, no university in the top 20 applied to deliver the PEQF programmes. In London, all the top-ranking universities did not show any interest to be involved in running PEQF courses although London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Kings’ College London, and the University College London (UCL) lead policing and criminology research globally. Only HEIs such as the University of East London, the University of Law, the University of Cumbria (London Campus), and Coventry University (CU London) offer pre-join degrees in policing.

5.6 Academic contact hours and blended learning approach

While designing learning materials for police studies to teach student officers, the ‘diverse range of operational challenges’ identified by Reiner and Newburn need to be considered [121]. In designing, developing, and delivering the academic programmes, the ‘peculiar features of late-modern society’ [10] need to be underscored for ensuring equity and social justice as ‘one-size-fits-all’ blueprints are not applicable in the changing world of policing. Emerging communication technologies and media indeed brought changes and complexity in police work [122].

In practice, academics and students may find it insufficient to spend only 20% of working hours towards the academic degree while students in regular university programmes are required to study and learn throughout the week. Although it is appreciated that the PCDA and DHEP are perfect examples of blended learning, the syllabus given by the College of Policing is vast and students need to work more and more to learn the course materials, given the fact that most of the materials are online and that involves self-study, although they can contact their module coordinators or trainers at any time for further understanding or clarifications. Moreover, the PCDA programme and DHEP, as technology enhanced blended learning programmes, face significant challenges as there are no PEQF-specific textbooks available although Bryant and Bryant [123] suggest that Blackstone’s Handbook for Policing Students 2020 ‘Covers the learning requirements of all major entry routes into the police service, including pre-join degree courses and degree apprenticeships’.

In particular, the students may struggle to understand legislation and interact more in workshops. It should be considered that the PCDA and DHEP students are not learning to pass their assessments or to obtain university degrees, they will need this knowledge throughout their policing career as the constables are independent decision-makers who attend crime scene, instantly gather information and intelligence, and analyse and make decisions on their next steps to tackle the situation. In doing that, they need to continuously consider the National Decision Model (NDM) as well as National Intelligence Model (NIM) with an emphasis of ethics at the core of the decision-making process as the officers are accountable for their actions and may be liable for any wrongdoings or mistakes for which they may face departmental proceedings or even lose their jobs. Therefore, they need to properly understand the legislation, policy, and guidance such as Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and its codes that outline clear guidelines for various police work.

5.7 Multidisciplinary professional understanding

Officers need to understand the paradigm shift of applying their own judgement, common law fairness, and Wednesbury reasonableness to specific legislations such as the Human Rights Act 1998, which makes it mandatory to be considered in any police actions with a minor exception in cases related to counterterrorism actions. Savage [124] argues that the 1998 human rights legislation that incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights has significance for all institutions in the UK but particularly for the police. Officers are required to understand the English Legal System and procedures in the criminal justice system such as how the Magistrates Court and Crown Court operate and what role the defence and prosecution play to ensure justice. Students of Law degrees study the laws and legal procedures throughout their programmes. However, the student police officers will have limited time to cover relevant laws, policies, and guidance from few classroom-based lessons.


6. Future of police education

6.1 Progress made so far

One of the major achievements of the PEQF is to shift the main focus of the initial policing training from rigorous physical training to developing knowledge, skills, attitude, and behaviours in addition to the empathy, compassion, and common sense that the British police officers already have. Through the academic programmes, personal and professional development of an individual officer will continuously focus on ethics at the centre of their learning and preparation for their professional career. As a result, police practice will be able to put in first place mandatory consideration of human rights and respect for equality to maintain the pride for democracy and the rule of law in the diverse British society. It is appreciated that police officers, as the law enforcers, need to be physically and mentally fit to perform their challenging duties efficiently. They necessarily need to learn drills, first aid, and law; however, the PEQF will put less emphasis on quasi-military style drill and parade. Rather they will go through essential Officer Safety Training (OST) before they become operational.

The police forces should afford a residential accommodation for the trainee officers in a purpose-built campus with technology-facilitated master classrooms, small classrooms for seminars and group discussions, and assessment centre with required facilities for student officers who need additional support. This is also essential to have the facilities for physical training, arms training, safety training as well as gym, sports centre, and hydra simulation suit to facilitate immersive learning. Should the students reside in the police education premises, they could have time and space for protected learning and they could access library facilities in addition to existing access to the HEI’s library and online resources.

To fulfil the demands of the twenty-first century, successful implementation of the PEQF will assist the society in achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) related to peace and prosperity through reasonable policing by graduate officers who will be able to make informed decisions by applying their cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills. As the UK historically led the development of professional policing, if the academic professional qualification programmes based on the PEQF are successfully implemented (as the first PCDA cohort is expected to be qualified in 2021 and the first Pre-Join Degree students will be graduated in 2022), this model of ultimate police education will be followed in other parts of the world especially where countries are seeking effective police reform to overcome the crises of legitimacy and efficacy. However, this model of new policing will bring a significant change in police occupational culture, which has been blamed for many decades for lack of police legitimacy. Savage [123] describes policing as a performing art and its paradigm shift as a process of reform.

Despite the Government of Australia has not recognised policing as a graduate level occupation, the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) has developed a unique programme in partnership with Charles Sturt University (CSU) where the prospective candidates first need to complete the University Certificate in Workforce Essentials (UCWE), a foundation level programme [125]. Then they go through the recruitment process to be offered a police recruit position and enrolment for the CSU-run Associate Degree in Policing Practice (ADPP) at the NSW Police Academy. CSU’s School of Policing Studies is located at the NSW Police Academy to jointly run this course where student officers need to reside at the Academy throughout the week [126]. This 2-year programme also includes a field observation placement in Year 1 that will follow attestation and then the students will pursue the Year 2 studies as probationary constables. However, their employment as police constables will be subject to successful completion of the Year 2 [127].

The Bangladesh Police Academy, Sardah, which was established in 1912 in British-ruled Bengal, still runs the fully residential basic police training [128] with significant emphasis on physical training such as early morning exercise, morning parade, afternoon parade, horse training (for the probationer Assistant Superintendents who join through the national civil service) and less focus on academic learning, arms training, safety training, and driving lessons. However, since 2008 probationer Assistant Superintendents of Police receive a Masters of Police Science degree from the University of Rajshahi upon successful completion of this police-led training. The UNDP-DFID sponsored Police Reform Programme in Bangladesh failed to bring a paradigm shift in police training and culture due to constant opposition of civil bureaucracy and lack of a strong political will as the policy-makers want to keep their strong control over the force [129]. Similarly, many police organisations in the developed and developing world have their own police academies, police training centres such as Louisiana State Police Training Academy, USA that has a residential academy in Baton Rouge with a massive training area including Joint Emergency Services Training Center [130].

The physical learning environment is also crucial for an enjoyable learning experience. In practice, it is argued here that the lack of adequately equipped on-site residential facilities for the uniformed PCDA and DHEP students may have a negative impact in their learning as well as their team spirit as the members of a disciplined force. In this aspect, more could be learnt from the other professional qualifications offered by the universities and should be adapted for these programmes.

6.2 Leadership development

Developing Police Leadership is one of the crucial priorities for the twenty-first century’s policing across the globe including the UK [131]. The apprentice-turned-graduates under the PCDA programme, officers with a graduate diploma under the DHEP, and policing graduates-turned-officers are qualified enough to be promoted in leadership roles in 43 forces in England and Wales in the days to come. Although there are five entry routes into policing, namely constable, police staff, Fast Track to Inspector, Direct Entry at Superintendent, and Direct Entry at Chief Constable (for eligible overseas chief officers), most of the senior officers begin as a constable and follow the traditional route to be promoted to lead the forces. Undoubtedly the Fast Track for both new candidates and experienced officers as well as Police Now, which runs the National Graduate Leadership Programme and the National Detective Programme, will play a pivotal role in creating future leaders. However, the question for debate is ‘will the NPC really allow this level of development, or do these programmes set the foundations on which to build leadership more strongly than current training provision?’ which is beyond the scope of this chapter.

According to Bergan and Damian ([132], p. 8), ‘[e]ducation is about acquiring skills but also about acquiring values and attitudes’ which are essential characteristics for leadership in an ethically and economically diverse society’ that also needs a ‘diverse student body’ ([132], p. 9). In the same vein, Bok ([133], p. 19), a former President of Harvard University, emphasises that ‘Our institutions are now the leading sources of all three of the most important ingredients for progress and prosperity in modern societies: new discoveries, expert knowledge and highly trained people’. He further argues that ‘universities are the essential institutions for preparing leaders throughout society. Every politician, every civil servant, every judge, doctor, priest and virtually every top business executive will attend our universities. Although this often goes unnoticed, more and more of these leaders are also returning to universities in mid-career for further education’.

Therefore, university education will help the forces to have more prudent police leaders who can bring diversity of thought and perspective into policing. They should pursue continuing professional development courses throughout their career to obtain up-to-date knowledge and prepare them to lead the forces and achieve legitimacy and set examples for the world. The College of Policing’s Leadership Review ([134], p. 31) recommended to ‘Create a new model of leadership and management training and development which is accessible to all within policing’. It has also echoed the Peelian principles of 1829, which are still relevant for public approval of police work as it states:

‘From the origins of British policing in the 19th century, an emphasis on preventing crime was established as the most important duty of the police, along with the notion that securing public approval and cooperation are fundamental to achieving police objectives’ ([134], p. 15).

Leadership is the one of the keys for an organisation to be efficient, effective, and successful in managing people and achieving goals. Bowling et al. ([135], p. 28) argue that ‘The police are supposedly a “totalizing institution” with a “chain of command”’. Therefore, this is very important for the police forces to develop well-prepared future leadership so that they can lead their respective forces. According to the College of Policing ([134], p. 6),

‘The ideal police leader is driven by the core values of policing, seeks out challenge and is quick to adapt. … This is a leader who empowers, trusts and supports every individual to succeed among their peers, within their teams and across their organisations; who copes with the challenges of emerging crime and public safety issues; who values difference and diversity; and who readily accepts personal accountability while retaining the trust of communities’.

6.3 Pedagogical aspects

Generally, police education has been based on a top-down, instructor-led form of teaching by focusing on a student officer’s technical competencies [5]. These approaches are contrasted with the mainstream higher education pedagogies, that is learner-led participatory teaching and learning where critical thinking and innovative ideas are the keys to success [2]. However, very little has been known from research regarding the pedagogical impact of different educational and training pathways into policing [136]. In this light, we are hoping to see wider discussion on the relationship between the NPC and higher education elsewhere between academics and practitioners [136, 137, 138, 139].

In the professional contexts, the police officers’ learning must be followed by reflective thought and internal processing that links the experience with previous learning as learning takes place within a cycle of action, reflection, and application [140]. A study on graduates from a professional graduate programme of Social Work found that class work had not adequately prepared them for real-world practice [91]. Failure to incorporate knowledge in a relevant and meaningful way creates a barrier for effective learning. Practical examples help the learners to understand and apply theories from the textbook to real situations, which enhanced their learning experiences. Similar views were expressed in The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education [141] that content knowledge should not be remote from practical issues. In the initial stage of academic police education programmes, learning may be found difficult by fresh students due to the lack of experiences. However, examples from their earlier life could be created and delivered through a virtual learning environment to assist the trainees in understanding the contexts and link with the theories. They should be given the opportunity to deal with real-life scenarios as student police officers who are too afraid to test their abilities will probably be worried police officers, which is not expected at all.

6.4 Interpersonal communication and critical thinking

As a professional course, interpersonal communication skills including critical thinking are very important in police education [142]. The nine Peelian principles of policing are the main mantra of policing, which suggests police officers are citizens in uniform and they cannot succeed without the support and approval from the community [143]. Throughout the curriculum of the professional education programmes, there should be an effective structure for teaching essential interpersonal skills so that student officers get a solid foundation, which enables them to remove some of the barriers between the police force and the public. Initial training through academic programmes builds an essential foundation for new officers because they need to master communication skills before they execute tactical and legal tasks in practice.

Effective policing occurs when police officers and members of the public become partners to create safe and crime-free communities. This partnership requires well-prepared police officers who display not only strong technical capabilities but also interpersonal skills. Therefore, police forces as the law enforcement agencies must train their officers on how to interact effectively with the public and work with them. In the professional setting, technical and interpersonal skills help the offers to perform their police work well.

Police officers face unique challenges and critical discourse as part of their role and they need to constantly reflect on their learning and experience to overcome the situations successfully. It is therefore a key focus of the PCDA and DHEP to make the officers critical reflective thinkers and students reflect and write their reflective journals throughout these work-based learning. There is a pressing need to incorporate the practice into degree programmes for effective learning and developing skills as Hornyak et al. [144] suggest that people learn best from direct experience with guided reflection and analysis. It is also essential for the best student learning experience and to develop necessary knowledge, behaviours, and skills for the student officers to become fully operationally competent police constables.

According to a recent study [145], students who are studying police studies at HEIs quickly assimilated a police identity, which affected their attitudes and behaviour. For fulfilling the potential of the PEQF, police services need to embrace, promote, and enable their police officers to become reflective practitioners through critical thinking and policing must be a reflective practice in the fullest sense [62]. If the recently developed academic police studies programmes are able to provide interpersonal communication skills and critical thinking, only then HEIs will be able to provide radically transformed and well-equipped policing degrees for the better future.

6.5 Policing in emergencies

In times of crises or emergencies, there are more constraints imposed on the police forces, for instance, the recent COVID-19 pandemic restricted individuals’ movements and mass gatherings. As a result, education and training programmes have to be put on hold advised by the College of Policing as the situation demanded the forces to deploy more officers to support the operations throughout the country, to such an extent that the Metropolitan Police Service requested the retired officers to come back on a paid or unpaid role and the officers who are approaching their retirement age to not leave the force [146]. Again, due to the emergency situation and imposed restrictions, student officers have been grappling with different problems, for example, staying at home and even looking after some family members, having less time to engage with their ongoing courses. In some cases, they have been struggling to connect with stable internet connections to access the virtual learning environments, in particular during their assessment day to participate in exams or submitting their work on time. In the changed circumstances, they have to sit for online examinations, in some cases for a fixed 2-hour assessment in a 24-hour window. There were concerns about these exams' compatibility, credibility, and integrity as there was no physical surveillance and learning materials might be available to them during these exams. Although the PCDA student officers were at the very beginning of their academic learning, still there was a pressure on the forces due to the crisis to deploy them operationally after completing their safety training and public order training.


7. Conclusion

Incorporating practice into professional learning is essential as Clapton and Cree [91] suggest to integrate theory and practice to bring the experiences of the field into the classroom as well as take the classroom into the field. It is commonly accepted that experience is a great teacher; however, it cannot replace a classroom, for example for learning law and legal procedure, and vice versa. To find a balance between theory and experience, similarly in between classroom and practice, the professional policing practice needs to be embedded in its entirety in the Pre-Join degree, PCDA programme, and DHEP. Policing is a life-long learning process; indeed it is a part of the professionalisation agenda, and to ensure this life-long learning to happen the police should be a learning organisation [147, 148, 149, 150, 151].

Recently introduced, these three academic professional programmes are still under experiment as HEIs are running the programmes for the first time in partnerships with the police forces. HEIs and police forces need to learn from their partnerships through different approaches and efforts of ‘trial and error’ to find better ways to prepare future police workforce and they must work out their ways to develop effective partnerships to learn from each other to be successful in achieving the goals of the ‘Policing Vision 2025’. Then this model of partnership for providing police education can be a beacon for other police organisations around the world as the Leadership Review ([134], p. 5) suggests that many around the world envy the British police service and respect it ‘for its strength of purpose and public service ethos’. Especially Commonwealth countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Nigeria, where those countries still are continuing their colonial legacy may be able to reform the recruitment process and education and training programmes of their forces to make a graduate level occupation through academic professional qualifications.

Although the newly introduced police education programmes are at the very early stage of their implementation as none of the three programmes has completed its cycle for its first cohort since introduction, continuous careful consideration is required to understand the challenges and overcome them in due course. This ongoing learning by doing effort is like ‘trying to build an airplane while you are flying it’ as the Chief US Training Officer for the Iraqi National Police Force said while expressing his experience of police capacity building in Iraq [152]. Indeed the recent developments ‘offer new and potentially unprecedented opportunities for HEIs to play a major role in the education of police officers at all levels’ ([54], p. 67). The success of the academic professional qualification programmes based on the PEQF will depend on how stakeholders provide the opportunities to the HEIs to experiment their innovative administrative and pedagogical approaches and assist them to run the programmes as smoothly and flexibly as possible bearing in mind that ‘the politics of the police and policing is complicated’ ([135], p. 20).


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  • It is worth noting here that this initiative was unsuccessfully challenged by the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police at the High Court [14].

Written By

M. Mahruf C. Shohel, Gias Uddin, Julian Parker-McLeod and Daniel Silverstone

Submitted: 05 March 2020 Reviewed: 02 May 2020 Published: 17 August 2020