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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK


Police training 'wastes millions'

The report said training was "fragmented and confused"

Millions of pounds are being wasted on ineffective training for police officers, according to a study.

The BBC's Jon Silverman: A national strategy is badly needed
The report, from the Inspectorate of Constabulary, says national courses are not being filled, with drop-out rates as high as 29%.

It also says that police training has become "fragmented and confused", with no national strategy to give it "direction and impetus".

The total annual cost of training the 200,000 police service staff by the 43 forces and seven National Police Training centres in England and Wales is up to 400m.

'Expensive waste'

But the report concluded that courses were not providing value for money and called for major changes.

One force trained a "substantial" number in their computer information system, but a year later 300 had not accessed the system.

At another force, 60% of officers who were trained to drive four-wheel-drive vehicles had not driven one four months after the training.

Only two police forces, Bedfordshire and Staffordshire, have measures in place to ensure their training programmes are working, the report said.

The report - Managing Learning - called for:

  • A new emphasis on life-long learning
  • A national training strategy that moved away from classroom-based teaching
  • National standards for the service for all ranks
  • "Professionalisation" of staff through education and training.

The BBC's John Silverman: Officers must be trained in more imaginative ways
It also cited the recent Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and Winning the Race Revisited, which both said rigorous training in race relations was needed in the police force.

The Macpherson Report into the Lawrence case called for an immediate review and revision of racism awareness training within police services.

Chief Inspector of Constabulary David O'Dowd said: "It is clear that some forces have invested extensively in their people.

[ image: Report into Stephen Lawrence's death said race relations training was needed]
Report into Stephen Lawrence's death said race relations training was needed
"However, in the majority of cases it was found that training is not properly targeted at those whose need is greatest, much of it is duplicated, poorly costed and not managed within a tight performance and accountability framework.

"The net effect is that much of the considerable effort expended by some forces results in expensive waste."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said training was already being improved.

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Paul Whitehouse, who is the chairman of the Acpo personnel management committee, said: "The report accepts that feedback provided during the course of the inspection was being acted upon before the report was completed."

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