EMPAC, led by PCC Hardyal Dhindsa and DCC Craig Naylor, has gone from strength to strength by adapting to emerging need and circumstances, modelling the adaptability, flexibility and innovation that the profession of the future will increasingly need. The regional collaborative partnership between policing and universities has brought university scholars together with policing professionals to work on critical areas of practice together. This coming together has influenced practice and performance, innovation for complex and high-harm problems whilst embedding learning and development as part of that growing culture towards an enhanced professional evidence base.
The East Midlands region has a track record of being energetic and forward thinking, developing the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, led by DCC Chris Haward, and East Midlands Learning and Development, led by Peter Ward. That drive for innovation, application and continual improvement, for the benefit of improving service delivery, has enabled the region to be the first in the country to adopt and practically implement the Police Educational Qualification Framework, which has seen the region launch the first Police Constable Degree Apprenticeships.
Research and learning overlap greatly, and that is reflected in the work in the region. Any research starts off with a question, and that means a recognition of something that we don’t currently know but would like to find out about more. Research is done at all sorts of levels; the doctoral researcher, the professional academic, the masters student and the undergraduate. Policing now is moving into the era when all of its new officers will undergo an introduction to research at an undergraduate level – to equip them to find out more about things relevant to their practice – and to continue that as a form of continual professional development for the rest of their service.
Of course, ‘research for research’s sake’ doesn’t necessarily mean the getting the best outcome for improving public safety in operational practice. That’s why EMPAC has developed the Impact Capacity Rating https://www.empac.org.uk/east-midlands-police-crime-research-development/ to drive a greater emphasis on application and impact – to accelerate research that ‘makes a difference’ in critical topic areas. That emphasis on making a difference can, and should, be everybody’s job. This means in practice, in the East Midlands, research is being targeted towards operational impact wherever possible. Chief Inspectors like John Tanner, an EMPAC Fellow who whilst undergoing a Post Graduate Diploma, targeted his research on crime harm resourcing. Constable Mohit Behl researched operational improvements in responses to domestic violence, and Sergeant Liz Perry researched how to better combat night economy violence (see more examples here https://www.empac.org.uk/spotlight-empac-fellows/.
EMPAC has collated all the region’s risk, threat and harm (which is established via the Morile process) and shared this with research co-ordinators in the regional universities so that all new undergraduate enquiry too can be targeted on real world problems, so that achieving the academic requirements can still mean making a real-world difference. This means in practice every one of those new undergraduate policing professionals can target their research on a critical issue and contribute to professional knowledge in a meaningful way, right at the start of their career, and use that skills over and over as they encounter emerging risk and threat during their careers.
Research comes in different shapes and sizes – a professional research team can have extensive resources – whilst a single undergraduate has a much more modest capacity. Nevertheless, undergraduate enquiry can contribute in its own way, such as in rapid evidence reviews. Many professionals who work in a specialised environment are often so busy ‘doing the job’ that they simply don’t have the time to stand back and review what is known, what is new and what emerging ideas are out there. Undergraduates can contribute where their efforts are targeted in reviewing and refreshing overviews of current and emerging professional practice, offering vital summaries for the busy specialist to build upon day to day practice.
So, the key point is that that learning and research intermix and can help drive improved professional practice. Embedding critical thinking and enquiry skills of research in the workforce of the future means that CPD can mean both external accreditation and real-world solutions, meaning that policing is at the cutting edge of thinking and constantly looking for ways to apply that to improve lives at the local level.
What has been happening in the East Midlands is replicable – EMCHRS L&D lead Peter Ward explains. “People sometimes ask me ‘how are you doing things in your region?’. It’s about forming long-term partnerships which are bound by trust, in our case with the universities for example, so we can work on things together, to have a joint ownership and pride in the outcomes. It doesn’t always need to mean lots of administration and bureaucracy – but it does mean lots of talking things through to achieve win-wins, in the public interest.
“If we can embed critical thinking skills it means these will support officers tomorrow and beyond, making them not just informed on ‘yesterday’s knowledge’, to being more future-proof, enabling them to shape tomorrow’s knowledge. It’s a huge cultural shift, taking us into a far more innovative and agile professional mindset, from day one of joining.”
ROUNDTABLE ON LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT EVENT
Remember, remember the 5th of November! On Monday, 5th November there will be a Roundtable exploring the future of police Learning and Development, facilitated by Peter Ward, hosted at the Joint Police and Fire Training Centre, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3RS. The overarching theme is the professionalisation of Police Learning and Development, as an enabler to the wider change required across the service. Kevyn Burns, from the College of Policing, will provide an introductory contextual opening statement on the 2025 Policing Vision and the Police Educational Qualifications Framework. This will be followed by facilitated discussion of key questions :-
Why does the Police Service need to professionalise?
What does a professionalised service mean in practice and what are the implications for Learning and Development?
What building blocks should Policing Learning and Development professionals put in place to enable professionalisation, at an organisational level and at a departmental level?
Where should the immediate priority and focus be?
How will we know if what we’re doing as Policing Learning and Development professionals is working? What does good like within this new approach?
The event includes free refreshments and a buffet lunch, and will start at 10.30am and finish by 1pm, with the opportunity to network. This is a popular topic and places will be in high demand in the region so please reserve a place by contacting email@example.com.