Overcoming organisational obstacles in policing in order maximise the benefits of the Police Education Qualification Framework

Kadry, Ahmed and Lambert, Jo (2022). Overcoming organisational obstacles in policing in order maximise the benefits of the Police Education Qualification Framework. In: International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM 2022), 28 Apr 2022, Online.


In 2016, the College of Policing, the professional body in England and Wales that overseas training and development of police officers, introduced a new training delivery plan for all new police recruits: The Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF). The PEQF laid out three new entry routes for new police officers, namely, the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP), and the Pre-Join Degree. The College of Policing state among the purposes of the PEQF is to address the long-held deficiency in recognising the level at which police officers operate and to standardise the learning provision across all forces, in particular the initial learning for newly recruited officers.

However, the introduction of the PEQF has not been without controversy and criticism. In July 2019, the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Constabulary, Bill Skelly, sought judicial review over the introduction of the PEQF which he claimed would lead to less police officers on front-line duties because part of their work time would need to be allocated to their degree study. The legal challenge was dismissed in December 2019. In 2021, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, Nick Adderley, was critical of the PEQF, stating that it was harming retention rates. He has since clarified his comments and emphasised his support of the PEQF.

The controversies have not been limited to senior leadership in policing. Research has begun to emerge that highlights how student police officers on the PEQF have found a disconnect between what they are studying compared with every day operational practice in the workplace, as well as a perceived disjointed relationship between their police force and their Higher Education Institution.

In 2019, the Open University became the PEQF provider for North Yorkshire Police. This paper will explore some of the obstacles and challenges thus far in delivering the programme. This includes some of the organisational challenges within policing to ensure student officers are able to successfully complete their degree programmes. Examples include the allocation of time to study and what this means organisationally for their operational commitments and abstractions, and in turn, what impact this has on the communities they serve. In addition, this paper will highlight insights on where student officers have been able to apply their degree learning into the workplace and what mechanisms are needed to ensure this can take place.

Finally, the paper will also explore some of the ways in which a collaborative and partnership approach between the police service and Higher Education Institutions can have added value to a police force beyond the successful completion of their student officers attaining their degree studies on the PEQF. This includes the benefits that can be derived for communities served by student officers on the PEQF and how their degree learning can be linked directly to how they serve their communities and critically evaluating their operational tasks based off their knowledge and skills acquired from the PEQF.

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