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Officers need protected time for training, Fed warns Chiefs

A licence to practice wouldn’t be needed if forces ring-fenced training, the Fed has said.

Every officer should have dedicated time for training and development, the Police Federation has said.

Ahead of its annual conference, the Fed has pushed back on proposals to create a licence to practice.

The idea, put forward by the Police Foundation think tank, is for officers to be assessed for their competency every five years.

But the Fed has called for a different direction – challenging forces and the College of Policing to step up their training support for all officers.

It wants every officer to be given designated time for professional development while at work. And it has put the proposal forward as draft guidance to the College and National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The idea is set to be discussed at the Fed's annual conference next week.

Currently most officers – particularly those studying for promotion – update their skills while off duty.

The Fed says Protected Learning Time (PLT) should be accessible to every police officer.

In principle, degree students already have this – but in practice, hard-pushed team leaders have been using them for duty to met demands.

It’s become a key battle for probationers who say they have limited time to complete assignments for their university lecturers.

One shared on social media: “They never schedule the protected learning days when you really need them, like when assignments are due, but randomly when you don’t really have much Uni work to do.”

Another added: “This process has to change.”

It's also a legacy issue: the College and chiefs have been at loggerheads for years over training and development. Former College chief Mike Cunningham told Police Oracle that a minority of Chiefs "still don't get it".

The Fed proposals

Fed Chair Steve Hartshorn explained if PLT is formally adopted by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing, it would negate the need for a licence to practise.

He said: “PLT must be available to every officer for their professional development. Officers should not be expected to complete assessments in their own time or on their rest days, but instead, be allowed to allocate time during their working hours to complete training courses. This then promotes their wellbeing and a good work-life balance.”

He added: “Officers often neglect training because they see it as something unrelated to their work duties. To combat this culture, forces should strive to build a learning culture by making training a necessary part of regular workflows.”

The Police Foundation said the Fed’s solution was worth considering.

Director Rick Muir: “We’re supportive of what the Fed is saying. In our review, we made the same point. Officers shouldn’t be asked to do their own learning in their own time. Doctors, nurses and other professions have protected learning time.”

But he argued forces shouldn’t make and either or choice.

“A licence to practice alongside protected learning would be really powerful. Officers should be given support to meet the standard. That quality learning should be provided by the force.”

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