Evaluating the new architecture of policing: the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency - Home Affairs Contents

3  The College of Policing in the first two years

21. On 15 December 2011 the Home Secretary announced that she intended to establish a Police Professional Body—The College of Policing—the first of its kind in the UK. This followed from Peter Neyroud's Review of Police Leadership and Training, which reported in April 2011. The mission of the Professional Body would be to develop the body of knowledge, standards of conduct, ethical values, skills and leadership, and professional standards required by police officers and police staff in England and Wales, supporting them to fight crime more effectively.[26] The College of Policing was launched on 3 December 2012.[27]

22. In our previous report on the New Landscape of Policing, we highlighted the challenges that would face a proposed Professional Body. We concluded that there was some support for a Professional Body from within the service itself, but there did not appear to be a strong demand for one. We argued that Peter Neyroud's proposals seemed to have been strongly influenced by the need to adjust to the phasing-out of the NPIA and redefinition of the role of ACPO, rather than the need to professionalise the police service per se.[28] This does not mean that the College could not ultimately become a useful part of the policing landscape, but it does mean that it will need to win hearts and minds and to convey coherently its nature and role.

23. Steve White, Chairman of the Police Federation, awarded the College marks of 8 out of 10 for effort, but only 6 out of 10 for outcomes. However, he was positive about the very strong relationship that had been formed between the College and the Federation.[29] Sir Hugh Orde identified a number of challenges, particularly in the way that the College was created to fill the gap created by the end of the NPIA. He added that "the opportunity to see the service recognised as a profession with an independent college … has huge potential".[30] Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe also thought the College had "done pretty well", despite having to adapt to an overall reduction in resources from levels enjoyed by the NPIA.[31] We consider the College's resources in more detail in Chapter 5.

24. The creation of a Professional Body for policing was a great idea that could have been the Home Secretary's legacy of her five years in office. It has a vision and purpose, and has delivered good work on guidance and standards. However, the foundations on which the College of Policing was built were not as firm as they should have been. For example, the Chair did not have the opportunity to appoint the Board, which has since had to be reconstituted, and the College has not been able to communicate directly with its members. As a consequence of having to overcome these initial hurdles, the College is not achieving the outcomes that it should be. There is much to be done for the College to become the type of institution that we originally hoped it would be, however it does look like it will have the most lasting effect of all these new organisations.

Recognition of the College

25. Through the course of our evidence gathering, it became apparent that the College has not yet established itself with police officers. We heard that Bramshill, the former Police Staff College, had had a strong international brand.[32] However, the College did not yet have the same level of recognition, as the Police Federation told us, "the vast majority of officers have seen the College of Policing logo, when they have been doing some kind of branded training; but in terms of the concept of what the College wants to become, that has not been sold to the membership". They acknowledged that the College was working to a challenging timetable, and that it was bound to take some time to build its reputation.[33]

26. Alex Marshall, Chief Executive of the College, acknowledged that building brand identity among officers was a challenge, but pointed to the fact that 60,000 people in policing had joined the College's online knowledge area, more than 300,000 people had registered for its online learning, and between 8,000 and 10,000 people a month received its newsletter.[34] Professor Dame Shirley Pearce, Chair of the College, explained that currently the College could not communicate directly with its members, and had to do so through the forces, which was "a bit of a handicap".[35] The membership system, which will be launched in April 2015, should address this problem.[36] The College is also making efforts to engage directly with members of the public, through public consultation on its policies.[37]

27. It is absurd that the College could have been created as a professional body without direct access to its potential members. For the past two years, to communicate directly with those working in policing, such as sending them the first professional Code of Ethics, has required the permission and co-operation of police forces. It is therefore no surprise that police members are not aware of the College. From April there will be a membership platform which will allow the College to initiate a direct line of contact with members. The College must now grasp this opportunity to engage directly with frontline officers.

The Board of the College

28. The Board of the College of Policing is led by an independent Chair. The directors include five police officers nominated by staff associations, plus the College's Chief Executive who also holds the rank of Chief Constable. The current membership of the Board is as follows:
Independent Chair Professor Dame Shirley Pearce
The Chief Executive of the College Alex Marshall
Three chief constables Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police

Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO

Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police (and Chair-designate of the NPCC)

Member nominated by the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, Lancashire Constabulary, President of the Superintendents' Association
Member nominated by the Police Federation of England and Wales Sgt Julia Lawrence, Derbyshire Constabulary, Sergeants' Women's Reserve National Representative
Two Police and Crime Commissioners and the chair of a police authority nominated by ACPO Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

Millie Banerjee, Chair of the British Transport Police Authority

Three other independent persons appointed by the Home Secretary Louise Casey CB, Director General of the Troubled Families, DCLG

Sir Denis O'Connor, former HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Professor Lawrence Sherman, Cambridge University

Appointed member Robin Wilkinson, Human Resources Director, Metropolitan Police Service

29. During our inquiry into Leadership and standards in the police, we received evidence on the composition of the Board, and the way it was appointed. We were told by the Police Federation that it was unreasonable that majority of police officers in the federated ranks would be represented by only one seat on the Board.[38] We also queried why the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who is responsible for almost a quarter of British police officers and is the highest ranking officer in the land, was not on the Board. In that report we recommended that, after the College had been running for a year, the Chair should be given the opportunity to reappoint the board, with the discretion to appoint additional members. We also noted that there was only one person from an ethnic minority on the board; a reappointment process might provide a chance to address this issue.[39]

30. The College accepted our conclusion, and in its response to the Report confirmed that a review of the effectiveness of the Board would be conducted within the 2013-14 business year.[40] The Government response also highlighted how important it would be to keep the composition of the Board under review. However it emphasised that the board's directors were not appointed to represent the views of a particular constituency within policing.[41]

31. Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO and a member of the Board, echoed the sentiments expressed in the Government response, saying that the Board should not be "a group of people with their own interests". He also said that, with a membership of 15, the Board was too big. He emphasised the importance of non-executive directors, and drawing in expertise—particularly financial expertise—from outside the world of policing. The policing profession should be represented, but in smaller numbers.[42] Sir Hugh argued that, while the Board should set the College's strategic direction, the College's Professional Committee, consisting of the heads of national policing business areas and representatives from across policing, should be "where the real work of policing goes on".[43] The Police Federation agreed with Sir Hugh's latter point.[44]

32. Professor Dame Shirley Pearce said that the two main findings of the review of the Board's effectiveness had supported the arguments put forward by Sir Hugh: that many Board members felt a tension between their role as directors of the College and their representatives for the organisations from where they were appointed, and that Board was too big.[45] The Board does not have the power to vary its size, so it has sought approval from the Home Secretary to do so. The proposal is that the Board be reduced from 15 to 11, with the number of Police and Crime Commissioners and of ACPO members each being reduced from three to one. This would mean that all the representative parts of policing would have one member on the Board.

33. Unfortunately, Dame Shirley was not able to report any progress in improving the ethnic diversity on the board, which still only has one member from an ethnic minority. She hoped that the forthcoming advertisement for another independent, non-executive director might present an opportunity to address this. She was also seeking to fill gaps in expertise with individuals with a knowledge of legal matters, of education, and of the operation of professional bodies.[46]

34. We are glad that the College accepted our previous recommendation and has reviewed the constitution of its Board. We recommend that the Home Secretary act quickly to implement the Board's proposals for a change in its composition. We hope that this will engender a more collegiate working atmosphere, and alleviate the tension between the Board members' roles as directors, and as representativeness of the organisations that nominated them. However, we remain of the view that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, as the highest ranking officer in the land and the person responsible for almost a quarter of British police officers, should also be a member of the Board.

35. The ethnic composition of the Board is lamentable, and no progress has been made. Policing organisations must recognise that true representation of the communities they serve is critical for public acceptance, and the contribution of knowledge of communities and different mind-sets can bring real operational advantages as well as everyday improvements in relations with the public. The College of Policing, as the newly created flagship professional body, should have been setting an example to all other police organisations. . We urge the College to seize the opportunity provided by the appointment of a new independent non-executive director to address this. In addition, whenever a position becomes available on the Board, the College must make appointments that allow its composition to reflect the population as a whole, as should be the case in all public bodies.

Guidance and standards

36. In their response to our report, Leadership and standards in the police, the College of Policing set out their fundamental role in setting guidance and standards:

    The College of Policing is responsible for issuing guidance … The College will have a powerful mandate to set standards of professional practice, issue Codes of Practice with the approval of the Home Secretary and propose changes to Regulations. … We will develop an evidence base to support standards, seek national agreement from all parties in policing when setting them and expect all forces to have due regard to them.[47]

37. In a letter to the Committee following his evidence session, however, Alex Marshall informed us that:

    There is an inherent tension between the College's role in setting national standards in policing and the variation created by 43 independent local forces in England and Wales, and an additional number of non-geographical forces.[48]

38. The Home Secretary noted the progress made in this area when she gave a speech to the College of Policing Conference in October:

    You are providing training and guidance on important and sensitive areas such as child sexual exploitation and domestic violence. You have established Authorised Professional Practice on important policing areas, helping to cut down on excessive guidance, bringing consistency and encouraging the use of professional discretion. And you are building an evidence base of what works so that in future police practice is always based on evidence, and not habit.[49]

As an example, she referred to guidance "to bring consistency, transparency and rigour to the way in which pre-charge bail is used in criminal investigations". We have also heard how the College has worked very closely with Chief Constable Lynne Owens QPM of Surrey Police, the national policing lead on out-of-court disposals, to provide clarity to the police guidance in that area.[50]

39. All the College's Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is directly accessible online to those working in policing and, when operationally appropriate, to the public.[51] The College has set an aim of reviewing all standards and guidance over the next five years. It is against these standards that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary will inspect the performance of forces, and the College is working with HMIC to ensure that the setting of standards and their monitoring are brought as closely together as possible.[52]


40. The College has sought a mix of training procurement, using outside providers to deliver training across the police service, and in-house training for the most sensitive and specialist topics.[53] Alex Marshall pointed out that the College's role was not to deliver training. It sets the curriculum and educational requirements and, in some cases (such as domestic abuse), it identified training outcomes.[54] On-line training is mostly delivered through the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies (NCALT), which has been absorbed into the College.[55]

41. The Police Federation, while praising the quality of the work being produced, was nevertheless concerned that officers did not have time to do the training that was available to them.[56] A particular concern was that the replacement of face-to-face training by on-line packages led to a reduction in the number of staff training days, so officers had less time for learning and development. Though the quality of on-line training resources was good, the Federation argued that face-to-face training had other benefits, such as interaction within the learning group.[57] Kevin Hurley, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, also told us that the time available for basic training had reduced, from 14 weeks to four weeks in the case of a detective constable in the Metropolitan police.[58]

42. We recognise that on-line training often represents better value for money than face-to-face sessions and acknowledge the widespread praise for the quality of the College's on-line materials. However, it is important to ensure that officers still have time to complete the necessary training during paid, working hours and we recommend that, if on-line training is to become the norm, then some national agreement should be reached between the College, forces and the staff associations about the annual amount of rostered time that officers can expect to be available for learning and development. The lack of face-to-face training will leave officers ill-equipped to deal with a growing and persistent threat, particularly with regard to their ability to engage with communities.

43. The College, and forces, should not lose sight of the value of face-to-face training in groups. Interpersonal skills are paramount in policing and officers regularly have to deal with highly challenging situations where they rely entirely on their people skills. These are not skills than can easily be developed online.

26   HC Deb, 15 Dec 2011, Column 126WS Back

27   http://college.pressofficeadmin.com/component/content/article/46-college-updates/571 Back

28   Home Affairs Committee, Fourteenth Report of Session 2010-12, New Landscape of Policing, HC 939, Para 106 Back

29   Q 76 Back

30   Qq 7-9 Back

31   Home Affairs Committee, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, HC 711, Oral evidence, 11 November 2014, Qq 171-178 Back

32   Q 8 Back

33   Q 75-76 Back

34   Q 141 Back

35   Q 167 Back

36   Q 141 Back

37   Q 167-168 Back

38   Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police, HC 67-I, Para 15 Back

39   Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police, HC 67-I, Para 23 Back

40   Home Affairs Committee, Second Special Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police: College of Policing Response to the Committee's Third Report of Session 2013-14, HC 770, p 3 Back

41   Government response to Leadership and standards in the police, Cm 8759, Pp 3-4 Back

42   Qq 10-20 Back

43   Q 19 Back

44   Q 77 Back

45   Qq 135-137 Back

46   Qq 136-140 Back

47   Home Affairs Committee, Second Special Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police: College of Policing Response to the Committee's Third Report of Session 2013-14, HC 770, p 6 Back

48   College of Policing written evidence Back

49   https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/home-secretarys-college-of-policing-speech Back

50   Home Affairs Committee, Out of Court Disposals, HC 799, Oral evidence, 6 January 2015, Q 61 Back

51   APP is the body of consolidated guidance for policing. It is the official and most up-to-date source of policing practice. APP covers a range of policing activities, such as police use of firearms, treatment of people in custody, investigation of child abuse and management of intelligence. Back

52   College of Policing written evidence Back

53   Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police, HC 67-I, Para 17 Back

54   Q 148 Back

55   Q 159 Back

56   Q 79 Back

57   Qq 97-99 Back

58   Home Affairs Committee, Police Information Notices, HC 901, Oral evidence, 13 January 2015, Q 86 Back

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Prepared 17 February 2015