Training and Development as a Police Officer and Police Community Support Officer

Initial Training for Police Officers and PCSOs

All new police officers undertake an extensive and professional training programme known as the Initial Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP). The programme is non-residential and student officers travel daily from their authorised home address to the training. This programme went live in Dorset Police on the 2006 and replaced the training undertaken at Regional Training Centres.

The training is a 22-week foundation training programme which is of modular approach and is based predominantly the Ferndown Police Constable.

Prior to joining, students must complete a series of workbooks and attend a pre-induction day before the start of their course. During this day the students are fitness tested and sit an examination based upon the workbooks.

On joining Dorset police the Induction phase is 5 weeks and Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) now generally undertake the first 5 weeks of the training alongside their student Police Officer colleagues. This phase is essentially 2 weeks of induction and 3 weeks of community involvement and safer neighbourhood training, including community placements with partner organisations. At the conclusion of this phase, a de-brief day takes place where the students give presentations. Each student is also required to complete a project based on their community placement.

Student officers undertake a fitness test in their first week of employment and further fitness assessments are conducted at approximately weeks 18, 45, 70 and 90 of the probationary period.

At the end of week 5 the PCSO’s have 4 more weeks of training specific to their role and following this are then based at their divisional stations to undertake the role of PCSO in the community. Please follow this link to download our PCSO Training FAQs

Meanwhile, Student Police Officers commence week 6 of their 24 week programme which takes place at Bournemouth. During this period they cover phases in ‘Evidence and Procedure’, ‘Acquisitive Crime’, ‘Protecting People’, ’Stop and Search’ and ‘basic road traffic’.

A phase of workplace training follows, which is made up of 4 weeks of Divisional attachments including driver training. The workplace attachment meets agreed learning outcomes and will take place on the division the officers will be posted to. 

On returning to the Bournemouth, Officers will continue to develop interviewing skills as well as phases in ‘Social crime and traffic’, ‘Hate Crime’, and ‘Violent Crime’.

During this training student officers are assessed by way of knowledge checks, examinations, project work and assessed practical exercises which frequently take place in the public view. Each IPLDP course undertakes three perceptual training days at the Streetwise Safety Centre where community volunteers also role act.

On successful completion of the 24 week course, students move on to the Professional Development Unit (PDU) of their Division where they are closely tutored. Student officers undertake accompanied patrol in this tutorship and are assessed against the Police Action Checklist (PACs). The PACs list a number of actions in which an officer needs to show competence whilst they are on accompanied patrol. They will be required to show evidence of competency in 100% of the PACs before progressing to independent patrol.

On progression from the PDU, the student officers are then expected to demonstrate competence against the National Occupational Standards (NOS) that are linked to the student officer role profile. A student officer will be required to show evidence of competency in 100% of the NOS during independent patrol prior to their confirmation at the end of the 2 year probation period.

During the remainder of their probationary period the students receive further training in specialist subjects such as the interviewing of vulnerable people and the investigation of complex road policing incidents.


Throughout your career as a Police Officer

After the initial comprehensive training, police officers face one of the most challenging jobs anyone can undertake.  As a response officer, it’s almost impossible to know what each working day will bring.  Every officer must have the basic legal knowledge to enable them to decide whether someone has broken the law and what course of action should be taken as a result.  They must be able to deal with the most violent people in our society as well as the most vulnerable.  Throughout their police service, officers receive training to update and improve their knowledge to enable them to deal with the many different demands that will be placed on them.  The expectations placed on response officers cannot be underestimated.      

After some time as a response officer, many individuals might identify areas of police work that they are particularly good at or that they enjoy more than others.  It is at this point that police officers have a choice where people in other professions do not.  Police officers have the opportunity to specialise in many different aspects of police work.  For example, police officers may become dog handlers or air support officers.  They may decide to specialise in the investigation of serious criminal investigations or roads policing.  They might decide to become surveillance officers or join the Marine Section.  Police officers have the opportunity to undertake attachments and secondments to various departments to see whether a specialist department would suit them before actually applying for a change in their career path.  There are also coaches and mentors available to give advice about future career choices.

There are many possible career paths and these do not even include the possibility of seeking promotion.  For those officers who have the ambition to seek promotion to the highest levels of the police service, there is the High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS).  A link to the National Policing Improvement Agency is included below.  This provides full details of the HPDS.

See the Core Leadership Programme below, which is open to all staff.


Training and Development as a Police Staff

Initial Training as a Police Staff

If you join the force as a member of Police Staff then you will attend a 2 day induction course during your first six months of employment.  


Throughout your career as a Police Staff or PCSO

Training for Police staff roles is generally provided on-the-job as is relevant to the role.   However in specific roles you may be required to attend particular internal or external courses to help you carry out your role and these will be discussed with you once you start employment by your line manger

See the Core Leadership Programme below, which is open to all staff.


Training and Development as a Special Constable

Members of Dorset public from all walks of life volunteer their time to become Special Constables to assist with the policing of their county and local areas.  They initially complete a group induction course over 10 weekends mainly on Sundays at the police HQ where they are introduced to the police family, police powers and processes i.e. arrest, stop and search, legislation, preserving and securing evidence, personal safety, first aid etc.   They are sworn in as constables and then perform operational duties within Safer Neighbourhood Teams and general patrol under the guidance of an experienced special constable or regular officer.  A twelve month probationary period is required during which a portfolio is built and can be used as evidence to support an application to join the regular force.

In addition there is on going training and patrol opportunities available as officers develop and become more experienced i.e. traffic, marine section.  Furthermore training opportunities is offered with regular officers.

The Core Leadership Development Programme is also open to Special Constables, (see below).

Within the Special Constabulary there is a rank structure and opportunity is available for personnel to take on a supervisory/management role obtaining promotion within the organisation.


Training and Development as a Volunteer

The role of a Volunteer is designed to enhance the work of the police and provide additional support in the area where the volunteer lives or works. All volunteers assist police officers and police staff who are then able to concentrate on core policing duties. As a result there are more officers on the streets and improved community support.

Volunteer help with a range of activities, from monitoring CCTV in town centres, maintaining gym equipment, cleaning and checking police vehicles through to a variety of administrative roles.

Volunteers are aged between 16 and 80 and are asked to give a minimum of four hours per week. These hours are arranged at a time to suit their own personal and work commitments.

All Volunteers must attend a mandatory 2-day Induction course, which includes 1 day of Diversity training.  Other training specific to their volunteer role is also provided.


Core Leadership Development Programme

As a member of staff, Dorset Police provide a number of opportunities to develop during your career.   The Core Leadership Development Programme is open designed by The National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) to meet the practical and professional needs of Police Officers and Police Staff leaders.

CLDP is available for all staff within the organisation.

Additionally, upon promotion to Sergeant all Police Officers will automatically commence the programme. Similarly, any Police Staff member who becomes a supervisor/manager should enrol on the programme as part of their professional development.

Other opportunities for training as a member of Police staff are available through various schemes that provide the opportunity for development through college and university courses that are specific to the role or are requested for future career aspirations.

Additionally, staff can apply for attachments and secondments and promotion to other police staff roles throughout their career with Dorset Police as such opportunities are advertised regularly as and when vacancies arise.


Other Training

Divisional Training

Divisional Operational Training Units (OTU), which can provide for continuing development of staff in the workplace, with a particular emphasis on probationary constables' training, have been established. These facilities provide for structured training with a due regard for divisional idiosyncrasies. OTUs have been established at Poole, Bournemouth and Weymouth. The OTUs have a co-ordinator who is responsible to the Head of Training but also serves as a liaison with Divisional Support Managers.

The current training strategy aims "to promote learning in Dorset Police in order to continue to provide a first class, high performing and cost effective police service which reassures our diverse communities and makes Dorset a safer place”.


IT Training

Dorset Police make maximum use of information technology and as a result staff are trained to use appropriate software in specific roles, i.e. spreadsheets, databases and presentations. In addition, all probationary police officers and transferees are trained in the use of all the police Force Wide systems and the Windows NT4 operating system. There are dedicated IT Trainers and well-equipped training rooms with networked computers and presentation tools such as video projectors and screens at Bournemouth and Police Headquarters.


Staff Development

The police service is witnessing changes in its approach to staff appraisal, training and assessment, moving towards competence-based assessment systems.

Dorset police is pioneering this change. Since 1998, we have been an established NVQ Centre with the Oxford Cambridge & RSA Examinations Board (OCR) and currently offer the Learning & Development suite of NVQs.

NVQs are not training programmes, though the nature of them clearly involves staff development. NVQs are an assessment tool designed to assess an individual's competence to perform a job role. Assessment is against standards that have been written by industry-lead bodies, now called National Training Organisations (NTO) or Sector Skills Councils (SSC).

The Police Skills and Standards Organisation (PSSO) has developed National Occupational Standards for the police service and we are progressing ways to implement these for the benefit of all staff and to improve the performance of Dorset Police.

Role profiles have been developed by the PSSO and included in the National Competency Framework that has been adapted in Dorset for appraisal, promotion and selection procedures. For support staff, identification of a skills gap can lead to programmes of development under the Admit Scheme - actively developing staff to fill that skills gap.


Diversity Training

A recent development for Dorset Police was to instigate diversity awareness training for all staff to ensure that Dorset police delivers a fair and equitable service to the communities, taking account of individuals' needs and respecting difference.

The programme is specifically designed to address recommendations following a force wide cultural audit, and is specific to the needs of the diverse communities in Dorset.

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