College of Policing: three years on Contents

Conclusions and recommendations


1.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. (Paragraph 9)

Consistency and standards

2.We welcomed the introduction of a Code of Ethics for the police forces of England and Wales as an important and necessary step forward for the police service and we expect it to be taken seriously by Chief Constables. We agree with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) that it is unacceptable that police forces in England and Wales are failing to embed the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics. If policing is to move on from controversies and scandals such as Hillsborough and undercover policing then reassuring the public of the integrity of those involved must be the first priority. The College and the National Police Chiefs’ Council must work harder to ensure that the Code is instilled “in the DNA” of serving officers. The College must set out what additional steps it is taking, including what practical benchmarks it is proposing in light of the HMIC report, to ensure that the Code of Ethics is fully embraced by Chief Constables and serving officers so that it becomes rooted in police culture, throughout the ranks. Alex Marshall informed us that the College of Policing does not have the resources to audit progress made in individual forces in implementing the Code of Ethics. The College must set out how it intends to tackle this problem. (Paragraph 14)

3.The Code of Ethics should be viewed by serving officers as having the equivalent status of the Hippocratic Oath. They should be required to acknowledge the Code formally by signing a copy of it at the end of their training. We recommend that the Code of Ethics and the Police (Conduct) Regulations are consolidated and made enforceable and that the resulting single document is put under the control of the College of Policing. (Paragraph 15)

4.The alarming lack of consistency across forces illustrates the scale of the challenge facing the College of Policing as it endeavours to implement a national approach to raising standards. We support the concept of national standards, whereby a police officer in Leicestershire can be judged by the same criteria as one based in Suffolk. Chief Constables must not disregard the advice of the College of Policing—that advice is part of the reason we have a College in the first place. (Paragraph 18)

5.We share the concern expressed by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, about the failure of some forces to comply with statutory Codes of Practice, in relation to stop and search powers specifically but also best practice guidance in general. It is bound to be the case that different communities will require different approaches to policing but, using the specific example of stop and search, an individual in one part of the country should not have a different experience of those powers to someone in a neighbouring area. Individual Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners must adhere to the guidance and statutory Codes set down by the College of Policing. Their failure to do so is unacceptable and leads us to question whether there is an enforcement deficit in the oversight of policing in England and Wales. The Government must set out the steps it is taking to address this failure and promote better compliance. (Paragraph 20)

Recruitment and training

6.There must be a standard recruitment process with standard entry requirements for someone wishing to become a police officer in England and Wales. We support both graduate and non-graduate entry to policing but the standards should be the same no matter which force an applicant is wishing to join. (Paragraph 23)

7.If there is to be proper consistency in policing then this should start with the first contact between an applicant and the police. Setting standards which 43 individual forces then follow as they choose is inefficient, confusing and breeds inconsistency. It also prevents applicants to an oversubscribed force from being offered places elsewhere if other forces carry vacancies. We recommend that police recruitment be centralised and then overseen by an expanded College of Policing. This approach will deliver a more effective, efficient and consistent system of police recruitment. Such arrangements are commonplace for entry into other institutions such as nursing, a profession highly valued and respected, are used by the higher education sector via the UCAS system, and have already been shown to work well in Police Scotland. We see no reason why it would not be equally effective for policing in England and Wales. The College of Policing should set out how it could implement such a scheme. (Paragraph 24)

8.The concerns we have heard throughout our inquiry, as well as those raised by the HMIC, lead us to conclude that the Scottish model of one recruitment process, and one training college, for all entry-level police officers has much to recommend it. Training of all new recruits at the same place, and by the same people, has the benefit of ensuring that best practice and national standards are recognised and embedded from the very beginning of a police officer’s career. It also helps to promote consistency in practices and processes across the police service and there are clear efficiencies in operating a single system of recruitment and training. The modernising of police recruitment sits within the Government’s revolution of policing which the Home Secretary set in motion in 2010. (Paragraph 29)

9.The problem of inconsistent practice in the training of new recruits—as identified by the College of Policing—must be resolved. A single training college would address many of the problems we have identified but we are cognisant of the challenges involved in creating such a facility. Instead, we recommend the Government consider introducing a number of regional hubs, overseen by the College of Policing, who would have staff embedded at these training centres. Regional based policing already operates to deal with organised and serious crime: there are 10 Regional Crime Organised Units (ROCUs) in England and Wales. Regional training centres could have a similar geographic coverage. (Paragraph 31)

10.The College of Policing should be at the centre of an officer’s career from the outset and our proposal would address current concerns about a lack of recognition of the College by police officers. As with the Scottish model, we would expect parts of a police officer’s training to be delivered locally by the applicant’s chosen force, as it is now, but it is our view that there are clear advantages in the initial training being delivered by as few bodies as possible. Training provided by these bodies should also be extended to police civilian staff. (Paragraph 32)

Qualifications, accreditation and professional development

11.We support the College of Policing’s ambition to professionalise the police service and its proposals for degree-level entry have merit, but it is clear that many police officers remain to be convinced by the College’s proposals. We have noted the Police Federation’s concerns that the requirement for potential applicants to self-fund a degree before they can join may deter potential applicants and may particularly disadvantage those from low-paid backgrounds. These concerns must be addressed by the College of Policing when it publishes the outcome of its consultation later this year. (Paragraph 41)

12.The College has also suggested an apprenticeship entry route. Careful consideration will need to be given to the appropriate level of pay if this route is to serve its purpose as a genuine alternative for those who would find it difficult to pursue a degree. In our Police Diversity inquiry we found that police forces are not sufficiently representative of the communities they serve. This is a serious problem that has to be addressed. Efforts to professionalise the police force must not lead to it being less representative. Any move toward degree-level entry should also have regard to our proposal that the initial part of training for new recruits should be at a central or regional college run by the College of Policing. (Paragraph 42)

13.We acknowledge the concerns from serving officers that the focus on degrees could lead those without them feeling less valued. However, if implemented sensitively, the College’s proposals could make a positive impact on policing. Many officers are already pursuing academic qualifications and undertaking research alongside their policing careers and this is delivering tangible benefits to policing. Equally, many serving officers are already operating at degree level and above and those skills should be recognised. (Paragraph 44)

14.If the College is to push officers to continue their professional development then senior officers must fully support such initiatives and allow those individuals who wish to develop their skills the time and opportunity to do so. We support the College’s efforts to professionalise policing and the first step should be to focus on supporting and recognising the tremendous work carried out on a daily basis by serving officers. (Paragraph 45)


15.Current police procurement is clearly inefficient. Given the obvious savings that could be made by collaboration between forces, or even by centralising procurement, we were surprised to learn that no central advice is given by the College on procurement or technical specifications, particularly for new equipment that is being trialled such as body-worn cameras. It appears a waste that leading experts on specialist equipment are under one roof at the College of Policing but that they are not involved in advising forces on which equipment they use. As a minimum the College should have an advisory role in the procurement of specialist equipment. (Paragraph 49)

16.It is astonishing, not just that forces cannot agree common standards for procurement, but that such a situation arises in the first place. It is self-evident that equipment should be standardised across policing because it could reduce purchasing and training costs and increase interoperability when forces work together. We welcome the efforts of those forces that do collaborate on procurement but much more progress is required if standardisation of equipment and greater value for money is to be achieved. If we do not see significant improvements in this area by the time we return to this issue in 2017 then we may decide that the College of Policing needs to take on a more central role in police procurement, for example by specifying the standard equipment which forces should be purchasing, in the same way that it sets standards in other areas of policing. We call on the Home Office to provide an update on the Collaborative Law Enforcement Procurement Programme (CLEP). (Paragraph 50)

Register of members

17.We recommend that the College of Policing be given the legal power to hold a register of people who work in policing and responsibility for admitting and striking people off that register and, where appropriate, to license individuals to work in particularly high-risk aspects of policing. This will help achieve a consistency of service and ensure that those officers receive the support and training they require. We also recommend that the College of Policing’s power to set regulations and standards be extended to civilian staff. (Paragraph 54)

Working with higher education and specialist organisations

18.The College of Policing should consider utilising the training and accredited schemes available from other, relevant organisations such as the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, within its own programme of professional development. Working closely with other, specialist organisations and referring officers to them will broaden the range of training that the College is able to support, reduce duplication of effort in areas of overlap, and provide valuable opportunities for police officers to gain accredited qualifications and increase their knowledge base. This has clear long-term benefits for policing in England and Wales. (Paragraph 59)

19.We are concerned that individual forces might be setting up their own arrangements for training and development with local universities, independent of the College of Policing. While we support greater interaction between institutions of higher education and the police service we are concerned that without central coordination such actions risk increasing a sense of inconsistency across the country. The relationship with academia should be managed centrally by the College of Policing rather than by 43 forces and 43 sets of staff. (Paragraph 60)

Governance and financing

20.It is unacceptable that the Board of the College of Policing has not been able to increase its ethnic minority representation. Moreover, the present position can hardly be described as setting an example for an increase in the number of ethnic minority police officers. We expect this to be addressed urgently, together with the skills gaps that have been identified, at the earliest opportunity. (Paragraph 63)

21.Given the pressures on the College of Policing’s budget and the desire on all sides for it to succeed, it seems strange to us that the College is being prevented by Treasury rules from charging what it needs to for the training it delivers. The Government must remove these constraints. (Paragraph 65)

International assistance

22.We fully support the UK assisting police forces in other countries to improve the service they provide. The College of Policing has been put under pressure by the Home Office to raise revenue, including through providing overseas training, and we support its efforts in doing so. We note in passing the College’s insistence that as far as England and Wales are concerned they do not see themselves as a training body but as a standards setting body. The UK brand of policing is rightly respected internationally and should be disseminated as widely as possible. However, the provision of training on the basis of opaque agreements, sometimes with foreign governments which have been the subject of sustained criticism, threatens the integrity of the very brand of British policing that the College is trying to promote. It simply smacks of hypocrisy. (Paragraph 76)

23.Deciding whether the UK should enter into contracts with certain countries will involve difficult decisions, and ones which may often be based on factors which go beyond the contract themselves. There must be more transparency in the process and Parliament must not be denied the opportunity for proper scrutiny. It is unacceptable that the College, and the Foreign Office on whose advice the College is required to act, have been unwilling to answer our direct questions regarding the basis on which international assistance is provided. This is particularly worrying given that Freedom of Information requests have already put much of the information in the public domain and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, has been able to provide us with details about its arrangements without hesitation. (Paragraph 77)

24.To ensure that there is proper transparency and accountability, the College must be open about the nature of the international work that it provides. As a minimum this must include basic details about the training provided and the risk assessment of the training’s potential impact on human rights in the country involved. We also recommend that foreign governments confirm in writing the purposes for which the training will be used and that the UK Government secure a written guarantee that the training will not include any purposes deemed unethical by the UK Government. (Paragraph 78)

25.We wrote to the Foreign Secretary to ask him to clarify the general policy of approving international contracts. He replied only on contracts with Saudi Arabia despite the fact that we had not asked about individual contracts but general figures such as those provided by Police Scotland. The Foreign Office should not hide behind any relationship with foreign governments under the guise of ‘commercial sensitivity’. For a Foreign Secretary to act in this manner and tell the British Parliament that it cannot disclose such important information is totally unacceptable. Based on his reply we question whether the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance guidance is fit for purpose. (Paragraph 79)

26.We understand that Chief Constable Andy Marsh, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on International Policing, has been in discussion with the Government on a cross-government strategy for international policing, the aim of which is to provide further clarity on the ambition for British policing abroad. This is welcome and we recommend the Government accelerate the development of such a strategy which we want to see by the time we revisit this report. (Paragraph 80)

27.The College should consider whether there is anything more it can do to help countries that have experienced the sinister effects of terrorism. The example we offer is Tunisia. Since the terrorist attack near Sousse in June 2015, UK Government advice is for British citizens to avoid travelling to that country. The consequences have been devastating for the Tunisian economy and those whose livelihoods depended on tourism. There has been a 90% fall in UK visitors to Tunisia in the first four months of this year compared to a similar period a year ago. If there was a role for the College of Policing to help countries that have suffered in this way to improve their security this is a clear and obvious example. Such assistance should be part of the UK Government’s bilateral support to Tunisia to improve its security to a level which would facilitate the regeneration of tourism and safe travel to these destinations and would be in line with the Prime Minister’s June 2015 pledge to help Tunisia strengthen its security and the general wish of both Government and Parliament that terrorism should not win. (Paragraph 81)

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5 July 2016