Police education: new models, new approaches and emerging trends With much research now going on around the world in police education, its nature, its co-design with police and its impact on police officers in the field, new trends, models and evidence are emerging about the benefit of police tertiary education for police officers. This panel examines such trends, and panellists are discussing the current momentum and impetus that such new trends are having for criminologists and policing scholars in various areas of research and teaching.

Dr Isa Bartkowiak-théron1, Prof Jenny Fleming2, Prof Roberta Julian3, Ms Melissa Jardine4, Dr Sancia West5  Scott Tilyard6
1Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, UTAS, Hobart, Australia, 2University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, 3Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, UTAS, Hobart, Australia, 4Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association, Centre for Law Enforcement and Public Health, Melbourne, Australia, 5University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia 6 Tasmania Police

Snapshot from the UK – Creating a Graduate Police Force

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’.

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

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.

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

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.

Police education in Vietnam

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.

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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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