Up-Skilling police officers online: delivering a different type of higher education for serving police

Dr Sancia West5
5University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Online learning has revolutionised the way in which higher education can be delivered and maximised the opportunities for involvement by student cohorts previously unlikely or unable to engage in higher education. Current serving police officers serve as a prime example of such a cohort as their employment restricts their capacity to attend tradition on-campus classes. Yet, as the role of policing in society changes the need for higher education in the training and up-skilling of police has changed with it. More and more, recruits are being required to undertake higher education as part of their initial training and tertiary qualifications are becoming a prerequisite for some promotional opportunities. Higher education institutions have responded to this need among police and the range and depth of policing, justice and criminology courses has risen significantly as a consequence. The online delivery of a course specifically focused at the current serving officer, in order to allow them to match the skills and qualifications of their newly recruited counterparts, is one example of how higher education has responded to the needs of police organisations. Delivering a very different type of degree to a less than traditional student cohort presents an interesting case study for the role of higher education in policing and the opportunities to promote the synergies between the two. This paper looks at the perspective of a non-police trained academic in delivering online higher education to a policing student cohort and the role this plays in professionalisation.


Sancia West is an Associate Lecturer in Police Studies at the University of Tasmania and is the Course Coordinator of the Tasmania Police Professionalisation Program (TP3). The TP3 allows current serving police officers to apply prior work experience and academic study in order to complete a specialised Bachelor of Social Sciences (Police Studies). Dr West is also a Registered Nurse, with a background in health policy, providing her with an ‘outsiders’ perspective on the issue of police education.

Police education in Vietnam

Ms Melissa Jardine4
4Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association, Centre for Law Enforcement and Public Health, Melbourne, Australia

Assumptions that police typically eschew tertiary education are based on studies in the global North or Western countries. In Southeast and East Asia, a history of university qualifications to enter civil service has also shaped the nature of police training. The presentation will draw on data from a case study of policing and police culture in northern Vietnam to describe approaches to training in a two tier system with two and four year curriculums. Interviews with police students and officers found positive attitudes towards the specialised Bachelor degree (4 year) program which is essential to progress through the ranks. Implications of the training model on career pathways and policing practices will be discussed. The analysis will consider how wider political, social and cultural influences shape the structure of police education and possibilities for reform.


Melissa Jardine is a Director for the Global Law Enforcement & Public Health Association. She was a Victoria Police officer for 10 years working at the frontline and in criminal investigations. She has a long term interest in the development of policing and security in Asia. In 2017, Melissa was selected as an Asia 21 Young Leader by the Asia Society.

Creating a positive discourse about police tertiary education – analysis from a case that works

Dr Isa Bartkowiak-théron1
1Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, UTAS, Hobart, Australia

The early critics of police education agree on one topic: in its first inception, police university education was too theoretical or ‘bookish’, and was very disconnected from the field. In unpacking the results of an in-depth longitudinal program evaluation (funded 2016-2017), the data mining of 7 years of police recruit evaluations (qualitative and quantitative), enriched with the views of police coordinators and educators, provides an overview of the impact of curriculum on officers, as well as the receptivity of students towards different teaching styles. This presentation will analyse the various dynamics at stake in making police/academia partnerships work and the perspectives of students on police higher education, debunking some of the long-standing myths that have been documented in literature to date.


Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron is a senior lecturer and senior researcher in theTasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES) at the University of Tasmania. As the head of police recruit training, she specialises in policing interactions with vulnerable people, police education and the nexus between law enforcement and public health. She is a member of several policing research governance bodies, and is the Australian Crime Prevention Council executive member for Tasmania.

What makes a good ‘cop’? What we know and what we don’t know…

Prof Roberta Julian3
3Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, UTAS, Hobart, Australia

There is an important gap in knowledge about police education at a time when involvement in the tertiary education sector is becoming more commonplace in Australian jurisdictions. This trend is likely to continue as the professionalisation of police resurfaces as an important goal for senior leaders in Australian police organisations and remains a topic of debate in the international discourse on contemporary police practices. The question of how to educate police – and to educate them well – to meet the challenges of contemporary policing is only just beginning to be addressed in a rigorous evidence-based manner founded on empirical research. This paper draws on existing research to raise the questions: ‘what makes a good police officer?’ and ‘how should they be trained and/or educated?’. While discussions about police leadership have been growing in recent years, there has been less emphasis on recruit training and education. Should the focus of recruit training be on learning about policing (i.e. content focused) or should it be on learning to be problem-solvers, leaders, decision-makers (i.e. focused on the police officer herself)? How important are research skills and knowledge in this training/education? What is the ‘right’ balance between capability development and content delivery? What are the ‘right’ capabilities? In short, what should be the learning objectives of police recruit training and education? This paper critically reviews what we know (and don’t know) about these issues.


Roberta Julian is a Professor of Sociology and Foundation Director of the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES) at the University of Tasmania. She conducts research and teaches in police studies and criminology. She currently leads an innovative program of research in the emerging field of forensic studies that examines the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system. Roberta is a member of the Board of Studies at the Australian Institute of Police Management, Vice-President of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society and Tasmanian representative for the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers.

Snapshot from the UK – Creating a Graduate Police Force

Prof Jenny Fleming2
2University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

By 2020, to prepare new recruits for the role of constable there will be three ways for external applicants to join the UK Police Force – through an apprenticeship in professional policing practice scheme; through degree-holder entry or by completing a three year degree in professional policing prior to applying for a position within a UK Force. This three pronged approach to police recruitment is supported by the College of Policing’s Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF). The PQEF is part of a transformative programme in UK policing that seeks to professionalise police officers and create overtime a graduate police workforce. This presentation considers this approach to police education utilising the research findings from the What Works in Crime Prevention project.  It considers officers’ views towards the new education regime, the perceived barriers to the successful implementation of the PEQF and the College’s vision, by 2025 of ‘a profession with a more representative workforce that will align the right skills, powers and experience to meet challenging requirements’.


Jenny Fleming is Professor of Criminology at University of Southampton and Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Research. Her team developed and delivered training to police officers on how to take an evidence-based approach to crime prevention in practice. The programme contributed to the National Policing Curriculum, which comprises the national standards for learning, development and assessment within the UK police service. Her book, Police Leadership, ‘Rising to the Top’ was published by OUP in 2015. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Policing and Society, an international journal of research and policy, the leading policing peer-reviewed journal in the UK.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Policing Practice in Fixated Individuals with Mental Illness.

Dr Emily Corner1, Dr Kelly Hine1
1The Australian National University, Acton, Australia

Background: Recent inquests have highlighted a demand for better policing practices when interacting with persons with mental illness (PMI). In the US, approximately 25% of fatal shootings by police involved PMI. In Queensland (Australia), persons with a history of mental illness made up 77% of fatal shootings by police. While in the UK, 47% of deaths in police custody involved persons who suffered from mental health problems.

Research Objectives:Indeed, research acknowledges the overrepresentation of PMI in police-citizen interactions and recommended that the most effective strategy is to adopt crisis intervention teams consisting of police officers and mental health workers.

Methods:This paper utilises a unique dataset provided by the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) to move forward from the current knowledge base surrounding police interactions with PMI. FTAC is a joint police and mental health unit within the Metropolitan Police in London (UK) developed to collate, assess, and manage threatening communications to public figures most often involving PMI. The data is rich both in terms of the individual making the threats and, in the case of them trying to act upon it, the (attempted) offence itself. The data is categorised across approximately 200 variables including qualitative and quantitative aspects. The years 2013-2016 cover over 3000 cases alone.

Results:This paper assesses behaviours across both communicators and approachers, and the policing and medical responses to such.

Implications:The results provide implications for policing and mental health professionals who are tasked with working with individuals in the mental health space.


Dr Emily Corner is a Lecturer of Criminology at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. Prior to joining ANU, Emily was a Research Associate at the department of Security and Crime Science at University College London, working on projects examining lone and group-based terrorism, radicalisation, mass murderers, and fixated individuals. Her doctoral research focused on examining mental disorders and terrorist behaviour, and won the Terrorism Research Initiative’s Thesis award in 2016. She has published in leading psychology, forensic science, criminology, threat assessment, and political science journals. She has worked on research projects funded by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the European Union, the National Institute of Justice, and the Department of Defence. Prior to her doctoral research she worked across step-down, low, and medium secure psychiatric hospitals, in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Police use of interpreters in routine cases: Challenges and innovative solutions

Dr Loene M Howes1
1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Police use of interpreters is a matter of human rights. It is one important practice that can contribute to equitable access to justice, from the start of the justice process. Recent research has focused on police use of interpreters with high-value detainees in the contexts of national and international security. This focus can be explained by a high level of scrutiny of such cases and an explicit duty of care to detainees. By contrast, limited research has considered police use of interpreters with victims, witnesses, and suspects in the types of cases to which police routinely respond in the context of a multicultural Australian society. Drawing from the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, this presentation considers emerging best practices in police use of interpreters. It reports the findings of a study of police investigators’ experiences of working with interpreters in two Australian jurisdictions. The presentation discusses the challenges identified by police investigators in their work with interpreters. It reports innovative solutions that are developing in practice in investigative interviews and other interpreter-assisted aspects of police work. The presentation concludes by proposing a research agenda to enhance current practices in police use of interpreters and contribute to improved access to justice for all.


Loene is a lecturer in Criminology in the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania. She is a researcher in the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies and the Institute for the Study of Social Change. Loene’s interdisciplinary and applied research aims to contribute to improved social justice by enhancing the effectiveness of communication in the criminal justice process. Her current research projects explore the internationalisation of criminology in higher education and police interviewers’ experiences of working with interpreters.


Therapeutic Policing and Persons with Mental Illness: Utilising Specialised Response Models

Miss Helen Punter1
1University Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

As first responders, police officers are usually the first called when assistance is required, this is particularly true for persons with mental illness (PMI) when they are experiencing an actual (or perceived) mental health crisis. Therefore, the police, not mental health professionals, are usually the first point of contact. This point of contact can influence outcomes for PMI in both positive and negative ways. Therapeutic Policing, a new framework, examines the laws that police officers administer and the policies and procedure that regulate officers’ actions, to consider whether these components that govern police work and actions are affecting an individuals’ emotional and psychological well-being in a positive (therapeutic) or negative (anti-therapeutic) manner. Ensuring that these legal rules, policies and procedures are therapeutic in nature would allow police officers to act as agents in providing therapeutic outcomes at the entry to the criminal justice system. The current research utilised interviews with frontline mental health service workers, as proxies for PMI, in order to explore PMI experiences during their interactions with police during mental health crises. Preliminary results indicate that existing specialised response models of collaborative relationships between police services and mental health professionals could contribute to more therapeutic outcomes for PMI regarding their interactions with the police. These types of specialised response programs will be discussed as models of best practice.


Helen Punter is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Queensland Australia. She completed her undergraduate studies and honours, in Criminology and Criminal Justice, at Griffith University, Queensland. Helen’s most recent contribution to the policing literature is a book chapter on preventive justice titled: Policing persons with mental illness: Preventive justice or preventing injustice? Previous publications include an article on police move-on powers in Queensland titled: Move-on powers: New paradigms of public order policing in Queensland, and a contributing author to a publication on restorative justice conferencing titled: Agreements in restorative justice conferences: Exploring the implications of agreements for post-conference offending behaviour.



Honorary Professor Duncan Chappell
1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

In western societies since the earliest mental health legislation in the nineteenth century. It is only in quite recent times, however, and especially since the era commencing in the 1960’s of the widespread closure of most asylums for the mentally ill, that this role has become the subject of systematic research and analysis. This paper reviews these developments and the still evolving literature that has surrounded them. Police were suddenly confronted, especially in urban centres, with large numbers of people with disabling mental illness for whom there was no longer a residentially based mental health service, and frequently little in the way of a community based program of mental health care and social services. Progressive police forces sought new approaches to their involvement with PMI. The scholarly literature is reflective of this search from which emerged a variety of policing models, some more effective than others, designed to change police beliefs, attitudes and training about PMI while improving pathways for them to be referred to mental health services rather than processed through the criminal justice system. The paper concludes with references to several newly emerging issues affecting PMI as well as to the particular challenges of extending progressive PMI response models to police agencies in less developed parts of the globe.


Duncan Chappell, a lawyer and criminologist, is an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, and a Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW. He is a past President of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal; a former Deputy President of the Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal; and a former Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology.


An environmental approach to police deviance: Exploring situational prevention possibilities using a crime triangle framework

Dr Kelly Hine1
1Australian National University , Acton, Australia

Members of the public entrust the police for safety and security, with the public largely dependent on police to uphold the law.  In order for the police to do this, we allow them to conduct their duties with discretion and substantial powers. However, this role and associated functions make them susceptible to behaviour that is deviant beyond their charter.  If police are seen as deviant, it can erode public trust and compliance with the police.  This study aimed to examine the possibility of an alternative approach to explain the causes of police deviance and suggest possible prevention techniques using environmental theories, specifically situational crime prevention.  Two research questions were asked; ‘can environmental theories help explain the problem of police deviance?’, and ‘how might situational crime prevention help in preventing or reducing police deviance?’  Fifty police misconduct cases containing 86 matters of police deviance extracted from court transcripts were content analysed for variables relating to the crime triangle elements which were then used to explore the relevance of the 25 situational crime prevention techniques. The study concludes that rational choice theory and routine activity theory can help to explain the causes of police deviance and tailor appropriate prevention strategies.  Consequently, this provides a new practical approach to contribute to the body of knowledge on reducing the problem of police deviance.


Kelly Hine is a Lecturer at the Australian National University and a researcher with the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.  Her research centers on police-citizen interactions including the use of force by police and officer injuries.  Her research examines the decision-making process, and impediments to this process, during situations that are typically dynamic and volatile.  In addition to her research interest in front-line policing, her areas of expertise include police misconduct and police integrity.




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