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New entry routes: greater education value but wellbeing a challenge

New recruits have said PEQF routes prep them well and give them confidence for the job, but wellbeing and work-life balance remain issues.

A survey of new recruits has demonstrated continuing issues with wellbeing, work life balance and protected learning time (PLT).

Published this week, the report showed that 38.8% of year three PCDA respondents had their PLT cancelled or postponed in the last three months. It compares with 20.3% in year one.

Meanwhile, over half of PCDA respondents said within the last three months they had always used their rest days for study or learning. 

The 2022 New Recruits Survey was sent out to all new recruits who joined between February 1 2020 and November 30 2021 as well as all new recruits on PCDA and College DHEP (not Police Now) who joined before February 1 2020.

There were a total of 5,580 respondents of which 1,359 were on IPLDP and 2,152 on PCDA.

Findings from the survey have been supplemented within the report by interviews with 22 PCDA student officers.

The stats have shown that respondents from the new entry routes (PCDA, College DHEP) were significantly more satisfied with their force education and training than for IPLDP.

However, the satisfaction with the university education and training was low – only 18% of PCDA respondents were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ while half of those interviewed had “strong views that too much of the university learning was not relevant”.

Student officers highlighted relevant examples of learning that they felt helped for the job. Among these were law and legislation, multi-agency and partnership working as well as the historical context of community policing.

One officer said: “Rather than just coming in, doing training school, doing the tutorship, and then, right, you’re out on response and off you go, doing the academic side has just given me that bit of a broader horizon, a bit more of an in-depth knowledge as to how things could be done differently, what the impact of certain things are, how things have gone wrong before, how things need to change.”

The majority of respondents across all routes had negative responses to various aspects of work-life balance.

And, although the majority said they intend to stay in the job long-term, the impact on health and wellbeing as well as lack of work-life balance were two of the top four reasons for those not wanting to stay.

Wellbeing scores for PCDA and work-life balance scores for DHEP were each slightly better than those for IPLDP.

The College said: “The new training is constantly reviewed to make sure it is delivering for policing and recruits. We have listened carefully to feedback from officers in the survey which has identified some areas for improvement. We are working to address these areas with colleagues from forces, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and higher education providers.

“This includes supporting forces to work with universities to keep abstraction rates from frontline duties as low as possible, working with universities to make sure course content is practical and the theory elements are applicable to the realities of the role and providing direct support to forces.”

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