Inspection report calls for further work to be undertaken on police training strategy

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been urged to link its policy for training police officers and staff more closely to the priorities identified in the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s Policing Plan.

The suggestion was made following an inspection of the current training strategy carried out by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI).
“An effective training strategy should enable the PSNI to determine priorities for learning and development, demonstrate clear linkages and assist in allocating resources effectively to best co-ordinate efforts to deliver against the Policing Plan priorities,” said Brendan McGuigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
“While much work has been done in relation to the development of a training strategy for the Police Service - particularly in relation to the Police College - this inspection found a number of important gaps in the strategy and the approach to training and development within the PSNI,” he said.
One of the issues identified was that the training strategy did not drive and govern all training in the way a service-wide strategy should, but only covered training provided at the Police College at Garnerville in east Belfast.
“The Police College delivers 80% of training to the organisation using about 60% of the training budget but around 20% of training undertaken is delivered at police District or Departmental level with the remaining 40% of the budget. This District or Departmental training is not governed by the training strategy,” he said.
Mr McGuigan indicated that a consequence of not having a training strategy in place which encompassed all training undertaken within the organisation was that the PSNI cannot be assured that training provided across the organisation was aligned to its strategic intent.
He warned that it may also mean training was not entirely focused on areas of greatest need which could in turn, inhibit the PSNI as its seeks to deliver on its policing agenda, by potentially taking police officers away from policing duties to less important areas.
“Every single occasion an officer or a member of staff is taken away from delivering ‘Policing with the Community’ impacts on the quality of service being delivered. This is why training should always be identified as being absolutely necessary, it should be timely and should improve service delivery,” said Mr McGuigan.
At the time of this inspection CJI found an internal PSNI strategic review had indicated that further revision of the training strategy was required.
“There was a clear intention to further improve all aspects of training within the PSNI and this has been welcomed by Inspectors,” said Mr McGuigan.
“It is also important any revised training strategy encompasses all training, and that the Police College engages more effectively with the wider organisation in a way which secures the support of key stakeholders,” he added.
In conclusion, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice said the inspection report was designed to be complimentary to the PSNI internal strategic review and the work of the leaders at the Police College to strengthen governance arrangements.