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Hertfordshire Police Federation

‘Failings in training could undermine confidence in officers’

6 October 2021

Failings in the system to train student constables could undermine public confidence in newly-qualified police officers, says the secretary of Hertfordshire Police Federation.

Al Wollaston said a new Police Federation for England and Wales (PFEW) report which showed a lack of support and training for tutor and student constables was “concerning”.

He believes the PFEW’s Tutor Constable Support Survey indicates that newly-qualified officers could going out on the beat without all of the skills they need for the role.

And he said the failings will be placing an “intolerable burden” on some tutor constables.

Al explained: “This report highlights a lack of support for both student constables and their tutor constables. It’s a bit of a mess all round and risks undermining public confidence in the training system.

“Our student officers need the best training to equip them with the skills they need for the role. And, likewise, our tutor constables need the best training and support to be able to develop the next generation of officers.

“Instead, some face an intolerable burden of increasing workload, paperwork and demands on their time as the number of students they tutor increases.”

The survey comes two years into the Government’s uplift programme, which aims to recruit 20,000 officers by March 2023.

It found that four out of 28 forces that responded to the survey revealed no formal training is offered to tutor constables prior to training recruits, while a quarter of respondents indicated tutor training in their force lasted just one day (five forces).

Overall, most said tutor training lasted between four and five days which demonstrates how inconsistent the picture is across forces.

The demand on policing, coupled with uplift numbers increasing, has also seen tutor officers raise concerns over juggling their frontline role with training student officers. In some cases, respondents noted the normal tutor to student ratio in their force was up to four to one.

The Federation said it raised questions about the quality of training for student officers. It also has concerns that members taking on tutoring roles will be left tired due to the extra workload.

Additionally, more than three quarters of respondents (22 forces) said tutors in their force do not go through a formal selection process before taking up the role. A majority (64 per cent) said there is no specific selection criteria that tutors need to meet.

This raises questions around the impact on the professional development of tutor constables, the Federation said. It believes they should be accredited for the important role they undertake.

A majority (17 forces) said they do not receive any formal qualifications as part of their tutor training.

Respondents also stated a high level of new-in-role officers were applying to become tutor constables due to a shortage in interested experienced officers.

Several disclosed this sometimes means officers, who have not long completed their own probation, are taking up a tutor role.

Dave Bamber, PFEW professional development lead, said: “We are deeply concerned about the lack of support and training for tutor constables and the negative impact this can have on both student officers, tutors and, ultimately, members of the public.

“It is basically just one big mess and is an ineffective way for forces to get the best out of their workforce to protect the public. How are the new recruits going to learn and be ready to go out on the beat if the time invested in their development is divided between four in some cases?

“This is unsustainable and puts additional pressure on colleagues who are already under immense strain. We appreciate work is being conducted by key stakeholders involved in the uplift programme to try to fix these problems, but it simply doesn’t go far enough, nor is it timely enough to make a real difference to the current intakes.

“The Federation has a seat in these discussions and will be pressing for the system to be urgently overhauled to better support all officers

“We strongly suggest tutor constables should be substantive in rank and role as well as suitably trained and accredited. They should also be volunteers for the role and given time to develop and to perform the task appropriately.”

 

 

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