5.When the previous Committee examined the College of Policing in December 2014, it was clear that there were problems around the recognition amongst police officers of the College and its aims. The Police Federation told our predecessors that:
[ … ] in terms of the concept of what the College wants to become, that has not been sold to the membership [ … ] backed with a reducing ability for forces to provide training for officers, because of reduced budgets, I think that ability to actually engage with the officers, around what the College of Policing is aspiring to do, is difficult. So it is not a case of blaming the College for where we are. It is a recognition that the time lines that they are working to are very challenging and it is going to take time to bed in.
One of the problems the College encountered when it was created was that it did not have direct access to its potential members, as Chief Constable Alex Marshall, Chief Executive of the College of Policing, explained: “To communicate directly with those working in policing, such as sending them the first professional Code of Ethics, required the permission and cooperation of police forces”.
6.We asked witnesses whether they thought that the profile of the College and engagement with it by police officers was improving. Andy Fittes, General Secretary of the Police Federation, told us that he “had not detected a great deal of improvement in officers’ knowledge of the College”, while Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents Association, observed that, while things were getting better, the College had “some way to go to get traction in terms of what it personally means to be a member of the College of Policing”.
7.Alex Marshall explained that, since the Committee last scrutinised the College, there had been progress in some areas and he gave the example of online training: all officers who work in England and Wales are now registered for this, and most have done some form of online training in the last 12 months. He did however agree that more work was required to boost the recognition of the College amongst officers:
I think we are making progress with recognition from our members. We have learned a lot from the first 3,000 people who have joined as members. We now have 57,000 people in policing on the College of Policing online communities, which is more than a quarter of everybody who works in policing. But no, I still think we have a long way to go for people who work in policing to recognise what we are offering. We are making progress, but we have a long way to go.
8.We asked Phil Gormley QPM, Chief Constable of Police Scotland, for his views on what the College needed to do to improve recognition amongst police officers. He told us:
For any central function, be it the Police College at Tulliallan or the College of Policing, it has to be relevant. People have to recognise that it’s of worth and that the training and input that it gives help them in their professional—and, sometimes, their personal—lives. Credibility and relevance are the most important aspects of any training regime.
9.We consider that the College of Policing is now a permanent and essential part of the new landscape of policing, which began to take shape in 2010. We acknowledge that it takes time for any new organisation to find its feet. Nevertheless it is disappointing to find that, more than three years since its inception, there has been only limited progress in the extent to which the College of Policing is recognised and respected by the rank and file members of the police service. For it to achieve its core purpose, the College must become an integral part of the policing structure in England and Wales. The College’s Chief Executive, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, and his team have made an impressive start and we would like to place on record our appreciation for how he, and the College, have engaged with the Committee as a model for others to follow. However, the College has more work to do to build a strong relationship with police officers. Success will not be achieved by their efforts alone. It is incumbent on the 43 Chief Constables across England and Wales to fully support the work of the College; but, as we will set out later in this Report, we do not believe sufficient support has been forthcoming to date.
3 taken before the Home Affairs Committee, Session 2013–14, HC 800, Q75
4 Home Affairs Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2014–15, , HC 800, written evidence
5 July 2016