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Scrap College and replace it with new leadership academy says think tank

Former DCI’s review also proposes independent review of initial police training to report back within three months

A Conservative think tank has proposed scrapping the College of Policing, transferring its role in setting national standards to the HMICFRS and replacing it with a new national police leadership academy as part of fundamental reforms of how officers are developed.

The paper written for Policy Exchange by former Metropolitan Police Detective chief inspector David Spencer says the police service has “lost its ways over the last decade” and argues that CoP which has an annual budget of £71 million has become synonymous with a reduction in standards perceived by many within policing.

Mr Spencer also points to the College’s own recent Fundamental Review which highlighted its lack of relevance to front line officers.

He said there was a “lack of synergy” between the standards set by the college and the inspection role of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

“Having two separate organisations setting and inspecting against potentially different standards is wholly unsustainable and risks causing considerable inefficiencies within policing and confusion for both the public and police officers themselves. This must be resolved,” Mr Spencer said.

“Given its catastrophic reputation within policing, its failure over the last decade to deliver workforce reform that has been both substantive and effective, and the desire to simplify and make more efficient the setting and inspection of standards, the College of Policing should be replaced.”

Mr Spencer said the college’s role in setting standards should be transferred to HMICFRS and a national police leadership academy established “for the effective training and development of policing leaders across the country”.

The paper also recommended the next Prime Minister commission an independently chaired review of initial police training in England and Wales to report back within three months.

Mr Spencer noted: “Unlike many professions, the most difficult and important decisions in policing are often made by the most junior people.”

He was also highly critical of CoP’s degree programme  - the  policing education qualification framework (PEQF) .

“Throughout its development and since its implementation, the PEQF has been dogged by controversy,” Mr Spencer wrote.

“Due to its potential impact on frontline policing, in an unprecedented step, the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police sought judicial review of the PEQF to delay the framework’s implementation. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it is remarkable that a chief constable even attempted to take such action against the College of Policing.”

Leaders at different levels of policing said the PEQF meant officers were unable to meet the necessary standards required to serve the public effectively, there were fewer officers on duty, more officers were resigning and there were increased costs to the public, he added.

Mr Spencer also recommended regulations be changed so police chiefs could be the ones to decide to dismiss officers found guilty of criminality or serious misconduct, the end of so-called “closed shop” police promotions and using app-based technology in the community more to engage the public in “policing tactics and decision-making”.

A raft of changes to be led by the Home Office were also proposed including simplifying the department’s counting rules to reduce the administrative burden on police forces, reviewing the amount of time officers spend dealing with those with mental illness unrelated to crime or disorder as well as giving officers the “tools necessary” to police protests and other public events.

The Home Office should also reorganise the response to the fraud epidemic and “establish the scale of a new corps” of data scientists and hackers to be recruited to policing to tackle online crime, the former officer said.

Police Oracle has contacted the College of Policing for a response which will be updated in due course.

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