Report on visit to Scottish Police College
17th to 19th April 1985
Deputies Mary Flaherty and Mary Harney
accompanied by Mr. F.J. Brady, Clerk to the Committee
1. Background to the visit
1.1The Committee was anxious to acquire some experience of police training procedures in other countries. Three members of the Committee had previously visited Scotland Yard and had discussions with senior officers in the London Metropolitan Police about, amongst many other topics, police training. The position in England and Wales is somewhat different from that in Ireland having particular regard to the size and organisation of the police.
1.2In Scotland, the total number of police is 11,500 which is very similar to our present strength of 11,400. While there are eight different police forces, the training function for all forces is centralised in the Scottish Police College. The Committee decided that a delegation should visit that College before finalising its views on training for the Garda Siochana. Accordingly, Deputies Mary Flaherty and Mary Harney, accompanied by the Clerk to the Committee, Mr. F. J. Brady, visited the College on 17th to 19th April.
1.3The delegation had a full schedule of meetings and discussions. In addition to the meetings with senior staff, we also sat in on a number of lectures and had discussions with various course participants. We met and had discussions with all of the senior staff including Major-General David Alexander C.B., Commandant of the College, Mr. Alaster Hood, Deputy Commandant and Director of Training who is the senior police officer in the College, Chief Superintendent Cummings, who is in charge of the Senior Training Division, Chief Inspector Ian Tennant, Staff Officer and Mr. A. MacCloud, College Secretary. We are very appreciative of the warm reception which we received from the staff and course participants all of whom were most forthright in dealing with our many questions. This made our visit very successful.
2. Brief background to the establishment of the College
2.1Prior to the Second World War there was no central training for police officers in Scotland. Basic training was carried out at Force level with the two larger forces providing some more specialised training at which staff for other forces could attend. Immediately after that War it was decided that probationer constables from all forces should be trained centrally and that some form of higher training for more senior officers should also be provided.
2.2In 1950, the Scottish Home Department purchased Tulliallan Castle for the establishment of the Scottish Police College. The Castle, which is 160 years old, is set in a 90 acre estate about 40 miles from Glasgow and 30 miles from Edinburgh and close to the River Forth at Kincardine Bridge.
2.3The building was modernised and renovated and the first courses for Sergeants and Inspectors began in 1954. Since then the building has been extended very considerably. The new building for the Junior Division (recruit constables) was completed in 1960. A recreation block with gymnasium, squash court, swimming pool, lounge bar and shop was opened in 1966. A further extension providing additional classroom accommodation, a Resources Library and single study bedrooms was completed in 1968. Finally, detective training commenced in the College in 1981 when further accommodation became available.
2.4The College is unique in the United Kingdom in that it provides junior, senior, traffic and detective training in a central training establishment on one campus.
3. Administration of the College
Board of Governors
3.1The College is administered by a Board of Governors, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of the Scottish Home and Health Department. Representatives are drawn from the police associations, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), with two independent members selected from the Police Advisory Board for Scotland. The Board is assisted by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Commandant of the College who act as Assessors. Advice is also received from HM Inspectorate of Schools.
3.2The general oversight of College business is delegated to the College Committee under the Chairmanship of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. This Committee includes a representative from COSLA, representatives from each of the three police associations, the Commandant and two independent members.
3.3College finance is monitored by a Finance Committee which comprises officials of the Scottish Home and Health Department, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, representatives from COSLA and the police associations, the Commandant and Secretary of the College. Annual estimates are prepared by the College staff and submitted for examination by the Finance Committee and approval by the Board of Governors. The Secretariat for the bodies is provided by the Scottish Home and Health Department.
Training Officers Liaison Committee
3.4A service committee of the College Committee, the Training Officers Liaison Committee, comprises the eight Regional Force Training Officers who meet regularly with senior College staff, under the chairmanship of a member of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, to evaluate and co-ordinate police recruit training, thus ensuring that common standards are maintained throughout the Scottish Police Service.
3.5The Commandant is Major-General David Alexander C.B. a former Royal Marines Officer, who took up his appointment in August 1979. The Deputy Commandant and Director of Training is a senior police officer on secondment from his parent force for a three year period. All members of the directing and instructional staff are volunteers selected from the eight Scottish forces. They too serve at the College for three years. College administrative staff come under the College Secretary, a civil servant, who has under his control office, cleaning, kitchen, garage and garden staff.
3.6The annual cost of maintaining the College in 1984 was £2.5 million.
4. Junior Division
4.1Every recruit to the Police Service in Scotland attends the College. Initially, probationers attend for eight weeks basic training - an intensive course which is designed to “equip recruits with sufficient grounding in the realities of practical police work to enable them to operate efficiently on street duty”.
4.2Considerable emphasis is placed on physical fitness, and, in addition to stamina building exercises such as running and similar forms of physical exertion, students are coached in swimming and life saving. They are also encouraged to take an interest in games and sports with a view to maintaining their fitness on return to their forces.
4.3After completing the eight weeks basic training course, recruits return to their forces where they receive on-the-job instruction. This ‘in-force’ training is continued until the probationer is ready to return to the College to attend an eight weeks’ advanced training course after approximately twelve months’ service. On the advanced course the emphasis is more on academic and theoretical studies than on practical and physical aspects. There can be up to 270 students at any one time in the Junior Division with basic and advanced courses running concurrently.
4.4The Junior Division is headed by a Superintendent and the staff includes a Chief Inspector, four Inspectors, twenty Sergeants.
4.5The basic course is divided into five groups dealing with police powers, crimes, licensing laws, road traffic and miscellaneous matters. An analysis of the contents of each group is given at page 14 of this Appendix.
4.6The length of the basic course - eight weeks - is the lowest in Europe and compares with two years in Germany and twenty-two weeks in Ireland. There is, however, a significant difference in the legal system as between Ireland and Scotland in that the police in Scotland have no role in the prosecution of offenders. This is the function of the Office of the Procurator Fiscal. This difference in role would be significant in terms of the amount of time devoted to training. We were interested to note, however, that only about ten sessions of fifty minutes are devoted to foot drill while fifteen sessions are devoted to interpersonal skills. On a pro-rata basis for the Garda Siochana recruit training, this would give about thirty sessions for foot drill and forty five for interpersonal skills. This compares with an actual ninety-two sessions devoted to foot drill and twenty devoted to community relations.
4.7After completion of the basic eight week course, a recruit is assigned to a station under the guidance of a “Tutor Constable”. All Scottish Police Forces consider it essential that recruits gain experience with an experienced police officer. We were advised that this is not only a theoretical ideal but is actually implemented in practice.
4.8Examinations are divided into two categories to include objective and subjective questions. The objective questions involve a series of questions with multiple choice answers given. The student is required to mark the correct answer. There is a much smaller number of subjective questions to take account of the need for students to be able to express themselves in writing.
4.9Before any objective questions are used in examinations, there is a process of validation of questions. All questions are set down for groups of students in informal tests. The results are validated by computer. The aim is to set a standard of question which has a constant validation figure of 65%. In this way it is possible to be certain of the standard of the various examinations and to compare different classes.
4.10The examination papers are prepared by a separate Examinations Unit. This Unit is part of the Support Services of the College and is independent of the Junior Division. The Unit is responsible for the setting, publication and marking of all College examinations. The questions are, obviously, based on the course of studies but there is no consultation with the instructional staff.
4.11After examinations, discussions are held between the examiners and the students. The various questions are discussed and students are advised as to the correct answers. This is seen as an essential element in the examination process. In addition, students are encouraged to talk individually to the examiners if they have any difficulties in relation to any matters arising from an examination.
Recruitment of Instructors
4.12A special course is also held for constables who may be suitable for acting as Instructors in the College. Each Chief Constable is asked to forward a certain number of candidates whom he considers may be suitable as Instructors. These constables then undergo a two-week intensive course designed to ascertain their suitability for the post. At the end of that period and following an interview with the Commandant, a certain number of suitable constables are selected. On appointment, all constables are promoted to Sergeant rank. There is no shortage of candidates and the level of commitment given by each candidate is very high. Those that are unsuccessful return to their Force and are frequently engaged on training at Force level.
4.13All police service staff recruited to the College are promoted to the next grade on their appointment.
5. Senior Division
5.1The objective of all the Senior Division courses is to raise the standards of efficiency in the Police Service by “broadening the outlook, improving the professional knowledge and stimulating the energies of those who attend”.
The Selected Sergeants’ Course
5.2The Sergeants’ Course is an 11 weeks’ course for 24 sergeants selected by their respective Chief Constables and is designed to develop their potential for higher posts in the service. Participants in the Accelerated Promotion Scheme also attend these courses.
5.3The aim of the course is developmental and the subjects examined include political affairs, economic, industrial and social problems with particular reference to the position of the police in these contexts. Management topics are dealt with by outside lecturers and College directing staff, with extensive student participation in discussion exercises. Care is taken to maintain a proper balance between the academic content and application to practical police work.
5.4During the course, students participate in professional presentations both in the classroom and in front of the closed circuit television camera.
5.5The syllabus is kept under review and students are invited to comment on the syllabus in detail to their group Directors of Studies - Chief Inspectors. Each student writes a course review in the final week and there is an overall course discussion.
The Newly Promoted Inspectors’ Course
5.6The Inspectors’ Course is a five week course for all police officers in Scotland recently promoted to the rank of Inspector. It normally consists of 16 students representative of the eight regional forces of Scotland. The aim of the course is to teach these officers to cope with the responsibilities of their new rank.
5.7It is a task orientated course and the syllabus consists mainly of professional subjects and the practical and theoretical aspects of management, particularly relating to the rank of Inspector. An important function of the course is to develop the student’s confidence in his ability to express himself well in all situations, including television interviews.
Scottish Command Course
5.8Command training for Superintendents was introduced at the College in 1978. The course is of six weeks’ duration and usually about 16 Superintendents participate. The aim of the course is to develop and prepare officers of Superintendent rank for the additional responsibilities involved in Departmental or Divisional Command.
5.9The course is based on three main themes:
1.Police powers and accountability;
2.Responsibilities of Divisional Command;
3.The police organisation.
5.10This course is considered to be preparatory to the Senior Command Course, the premier police training course in the United Kingdom, a six months’ course at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, for selected officers considered capable of progressing to the highest ranks in the service.
6. Traffic Division
6.1The two main courses available at the Traffic Division are for Advanced Driving and Traffic Patrol Officers. Both courses are of four weeks’ duration, the students being selected from Traffic Departments of all Scottish forces.
6.2The Advanced Driving Course is a practical one in which students’ abilities are developed to a high degree through comprehensive instruction on all aspects of motor driving. Examination standards demanded of advanced drivers are very high - 85 per cent in every subject being required for a Class 1 certificate.
6.3The Traffic Patrol Officers’ Course covers the scrutiny of legislation and the examination and testing of motor vehicles. Practical experience is also provided outside the College to develop the officer’s knowledge and to define the scope and limitations of his powers.
6.4The remaining course at Traffic Division is for Potential Driving Instructors. The three students on each course are expected, by the end of their six weeks’ training, to be able to take charge of any force driving course from start to finish. Student performance in demonstrating driving, instructional techniques, lecturing and production of visual aids are examined strictly before a Potential Instructor is granted an Instructor’s Certificate.
7. Detective Division
7.1The aim of detective training is to “enhance the professional knowledge of the specialist CID officer and to increase his competence and efficiency”.
7.2The initial 6 weeks’ course caters for up to twenty four junior detective officers. Emphasis is placed on teaching subjects of particular interest to the specialist investigator and lecturers are drawn from the Judiciary, the Office of the Procurator Fiscal, the Medical and Legal Profession and from police sources. Students also undertake tasks of a practical nature in order to prove their ability to plan and solve problems.
7.3The three weeks’ Advanced Course for experienced CID officers is intended to update their knowledge of current techniques and methods of dealing with recent developments in crime.
7.4Short specialist courses on fraud and drugs enquiries are also held.
8. Support Services
8.1Support Services comprises a number of units which provide specialist support mainly for the training divisions of the College. These are Graphics, Reprographics, Audio Visual (including photography and CCTV) and the Examinations Unit (see paragraphs 4.9 to 4.12 above). Under the overall control of a Chief Inspector, there are police officers and civilians on the staff.
8.2The technical side is staffed by qualified technicians. Reprographics operates two web offset litho printing machines together with the necessary ancillary equipment. The audio visual unit is located in well equipped studios with three TV colour cameras, editing equipment, portable cameras and video recorders. The Graphics Officer is responsible for the layout of all printed matter and art work. Productions in the main take the form of a variety of teaching aids such as tape-slides and TV programmes, the printing of students’ lesson notes and all the other printing needs of the College.
9. Accelerated Promotion
9.1All recruitment in the Scottish Police Forces is at constable level. In 1962 the Commission on the Police commented to the effect that the police service was not attracting its fair share of people of a high standard. At that time, promotion was very slow, seldom available for any constable with less than 15 years service.
9.2In 1964 it was decided to commence a scheme for accelerated promotion. The present procedure necessitates that a constable must have passed the Elementary Promotion test. Constables can sit this test provided they have completed their two year probation. Applicants then sit a competitive examination and the top fifty to sixty persons are called for interview and tests at the College. The interviews are conducted by Chief Constables, senior Civil Servants and Psychologists. In addition to the interviews, candidates also undergo a series of aptitude and psychological tests.
9.3A maximum of 12 constables are selected in any one year. Successful candidates undergo a one year special course at the start of which they are promoted on a temporary basis to the rank of Sergeant. This course, at present, necessitates attendance at the Selected Sergeants’ Course (see paragraphs 5.2 to 5.5 above) and a series of attachments to other Forces. On satisfactory completion of the year’s course a constable is confirmed in his appointment as a Sergeant. The procedure is to change in 1986 with the provision of a special course at the College for part of the year.
10. Academic education opportunities
10.1Since 1971 the Polytechnical Colleges have been providing a two year course leading to the Scottish Higher National Certificate in Police Studies. This course necessitates day release on one day a week for the duration of the course and covers such topics as public administration, sociology and criminology.
10.2There is provision for full-time day release for attendance at University. Chief Inspectors may only release officers whom they are prepared to promote as officers are nomally promoted to the next rank on satisfactory completion of their degree course.
11.1The delegation was very impressed with the facilities and the commitment of all of the staff. There are fifty seven police and forty three civilians. The catering service for the College has been provided on a contract basis for the past year and is working very satisfactorily. The instruction staffing level in Templemore is very similar to that at the Scottish Police College.
11.2It is very interesting to observe the level of commitment which exists for training in a country which has almost the same number of police officers as in Ireland. The interest among the staff may be due, in part, to the fact that promotion was achieved on appointment to the staff after a series of very competitive tests. The atmosphere in the College is very pleasant with a minimum of rules and regulations. The emphasis is on self-discipline and this works very well in the circumstances. All staff are resident in the College during the Monday to Friday work-week.
Basic Training Courses