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Fundamental review of the College of Policing

A fundamental review of the College of Policing was published in February 2022, find out the key headlines as we explore the report’s aims, priorities and recommendations.

A fundamental review of the College of Policing was launched in March 2021 by Lord Herbert of the South Downs, Chair of the College of Policing and published in February 2022. In this blog we’ll explore the report’s aims, priorities and recommendations.

The report’s fundamental aims were to conduct an assessment of the College of Policing’s role, its effectiveness and how it operates alongside other organisations in the policing landscape. It was also to ensure that the College is highly valued by every section of policing, from frontline officers and staff to chief constables and police and crime commissioners.

The review considered the College’s role in all aspects of policing, from how well the College supports professional development, shares good practice and sets standards, through to how useful people working on the front line find the College’s services. The review also looked at the relationship between the College and other policing organisations, and at how well equipped the College is to support the police service to deal with future challenges.

The review set out three key priorities. These are:

  1. Boosting Professionalism – ensuring officers and staff have access to the best in CPD and that it is properly prioritised
  2. Improving Leadership – officers and staff at all levels to have their leadership skills developed
  3. Driving Consistency – overcoming the weaknesses of the 43-force model to bring consistency where it matters most for the public and those working in policing

The evidence base for the report was developed through face-to-face interviews, a written call for evidence and focus groups as well as an analysis of a survey of approximately 15,000 officers and staff showing the gap between expectations of the College and delivery against them.

Challenges Facing the College of Policing

The report highlights five key challenges facing the college:

  1. Communication and Engagement – The role of the College is poorly understood, as are the needs and views of the front line;
  2. Usefulness – The College needs to prove its usefulness to all parts of policing;
  3. Quality – Training and learning products need to be improved, with better coordination between the learning outcomes policing needs and the products available;
  4. Credibility – Activity takes place without College input because it lacks credibility;
  5. Culture – A range of challenges facing the College in delivering its functions have been identified.

Future Direction

Despite the need for significant change, the core functions of the College – to share knowledge and good practice, support professional development and set standards – have been endorsed by the review as the continuing areas of activity. 

The review heard a range of ideas for improvement and areas of change, or for new focus to deliver on the vision to boost professionalism, improve leadership and drive consistency. 

Getting the right resources into the College is critical. Rather than a prescriptive list of activities that the College is now committed to delivering, these ideas represent a possible direction of travel to meet a new overarching vision. 

The following ideas are a reflection of what the review heard through consultation and are ideas for consideration that are believed would reshape the role of the College, increasing its utility to all in policing, fundamentally contributing to the aim of cutting crime and keeping the public safe. 

Some of the ideas require a new approach, others can be delivered within existing budgets by refocusing activity, some will need extra resources from within policing and a new settlement with the sector, and others will need investment from the centre. 

Delivering the Vision

To deliver this ambitious new vision, The report identifies a range of priorities for improvement or development across the core functions of sharing knowledge and good practice, setting standards and supporting professional development. 

Sharing knowledge and good practice 

The College will:

  • Ensure that officers have access to the practical evidence they need to cut crime and keep the public safe.
  • Boost the What Works Centre so that the products are more practically useful to policing and are focused on key areas of demand, such as those set out in the National Crime and Policing Measures. 
  • Deliver a new tool to put the best guidance and support into the hands of officers.
  • Support the police to make the most effective use of data to reduce crime and keep people safe. 

Setting standards

The College will:

  • Improve the implementation of standards, deliver consistency and support forces in need.
  • Drive greater consistency across policing and boost excellence in the basics.
  • Support policing to improve ethics, boosting the community of practice.

Supporting professional development

The College will:

  • Improve professionalism in policing through effective continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Ensure world-class learning and development across police forces.
  • Significantly increase secondments to bring the brightest and best from policing into the College.
  • Act as the professional body for all in policing, including police staff.

National Police Leadership Centre

Policing is facing a myriad of challenges, many linked to culture. Improved leadership and supervision is critical to ensuring improvements in police culture, ethics, productivity and performance, as well as taking advantage of new opportunities, such as data-driven policing. The College will establish a new National Police Leadership Centre to bring together partners from across policing, to drive a consistent and effective change across leadership development.

The various strands of work that are already taking place in the College on promotion and progression and senior leadership should be consolidated, along with other activity set out here, into a new plan for policing leadership developed with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council as the first expression of the centre.

Conditions for Success

The National Police Chiefs’ Council, police forces, the Home Office, Police and Crime Commissioners and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services must all buy into the new mission. 

Most senior leaders in policing have spoken of the need for a strong College that can meet the expectations put upon it, as well as the potential it has to improve professionalism and leadership and increase consistency. This requires key partners to change their approach to the College and contribute to its success. 

The root of effective working across the policing system is collaboration. While some have argued for clearer delineation between organisations, with harder lines, this is unrealistic in a system with so many complexities and interdependencies. Instead, effective and consistent collaboration across all key stakeholders is key.

Next Steps

A new College Strategy, building on the review, will be published in spring 2022, along with a clear business plan building on the proposals in this review and setting out the areas the College will be taking forward.


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