15 September 2017

FAQ on the College's work in international training

British policing is admired around the world for its original model, attributed to Sir Robert Peel, of an approachable, impartial, accountable style of policing based on minimal force. This model is one the College of Policing is often asked to help replicate in other countries.

International policing assistance provides opportunities for the UK to promote the development of accountable, democratic police services around the world and reduce harm to the UK. The College is routinely involved in a range of international assistance work, including carrying out training in areas such as leadership, intelligence, and other activities to share best practice and build relationships to improve policing at home and abroad.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the College and international policing assistance below.

 Frequently asked questions

Why does the UK police service assist other countries?

The UK invests in supporting improvements to policing internationally for many important reasons. In an increasingly interconnected world, the UK’s security, prosperity and freedom are linked to those of other countries. Professional police forces that have people’s trust and confidence and respond to the needs of all sections of society can provide a platform for security, prosperity and freedom. Repressive police forces that fail to protect communities and are associated with corruption can trigger violence and fuel radicalisation.

The UK police service works closely with government departments, particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID), to ensure that any assistance provided is consistent with UK’s national objectives.

What are the principles that underpin international policing assistance?

The Stabilisation Unit (SU) is a cross-departmental unit reporting jointly to the FCO, DFID and Ministry of Defence (MOD). The SU has set out principles and guidance to inform international policing assistance. 

These principles are:

  • Accountability: police should be accountable for their actions
  • Empowerment: of police officers to exercise judgement in tackling local issues, and of communities having a voice in directing police priorities
  • Gender equality and ending violence against women: a police service should be responsive to the differing needs of all members of the community
  • Human rights: the police exist to support rights and freedoms, not undermine them
  • Partnerships: most safety and security problems cannot be solved by the police acting alone
  • Problem solving: by studying crime and disorder issues, responses can be identified and implemented to address them
  • Service delivery: an ethos of service reflects the central commitment of the police to protect the safety and security of citizens.

More detail about how policing assistance programmes apply these principles in different contexts is available here.

Why is the College of Policing involved in international policing assistance?

The College of Policing is the professional body for those working in policing. It sets standards of professional practice; identifies, develops and promotes good practice based on evidence; supports the professional development of those working in policing; helps police forces and other organisations to work together to protect the public and prevent crime; and identifies, develops and promotes ethics, values and standards of integrity.

As the body which sets standards for policing in England and Wales and delivers training to the 43 Home Office forces and other policing bodies, the College is often asked to contribute to international policing assistance. Much of the knowledge and standards for UK policing is vested within the College's materials such as Authorised Professional Practice (APP) and our training materials. As the College is not itself a police force, any training delivered by its staff or associates does not impact on the operational effectiveness of the UK forces. UK policing assistance overseas can both contribute towards national objectives and support our role of raising standards of professional practice in the UK. 

What areas of policing are covered in overseas assistance involving the College of Policing?

​The College provides policing assistance across a range of disciplines including:

  • Crime scene investigation
  • Forensics
  • Hi-tech crime
  • Child abuse
  • Counterterrorism
  • Organised crime
  • Anti-money laundering investigations
  • Leadership
  • Developing senior women.

How does the Code of Ethics apply to international policing assistance?

All training delivered by the College is consistent with the British model of policing by consent. Respect for human rights and dignity is interwoven into each programme.

The Code of Ethics for policing sets out the principles and standards of behaviour that promote, reinforce and support the highest standards from everyone who works in policing in England and Wales. This includes the College and its employees.

Amongst other things, the Code of Ethics requires us to:

  • Act in the public interest

  • Be open and transparent in our actions and decisions

  • Treat information with respect and only disclose it in the proper course of our duties

  • Always do the right thing

  • Treat people fairly

  • Be truthful and trustworthy

  • Make decisions based on evidence and our best professional judgement

  • Treat everyone with respect.

How can the College be sure international policing assistance supports human rights?

​Decisions about UK policing assistance overseas must reconcile the difficulties of working with countries whose standards of human rights may be at odds with our own with the opportunity to address national security concerns, reduce harm to individuals, help to protect UK citizens overseas and contribute to reform in those countries.

Within the College, decisions are guided by the Code of Ethics. But the College is not always party to the specific issues, challenges or security climate in any one country. That is why, before we undertake any international work, we refer to the International Police Assistance Board (IPAB) which assesses all requests against British values and interests.

The IPAB comprises policing representatives and those of the FCO, Home Office, MOD, DFID and devolved administrations. A referral to IPAB involves completing a detailed outline of the proposed work including consideration of human rights issues. This referral is then circulated extensively between partners who all have the opportunity to comment on whether the proposal is in line with government objectives, on any particular risks and on any human rights implications.

The IPAB coordinates the responses and provides a view to the College on whether the work should be undertaken. The College has never provided overseas assistance without the IPAB's recommendation.

The FCO publishes Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) guidance which can help the IPAB assess the human rights risks of UK overseas security and justice assistance work and identify measures to mitigate such risks.

The College completes a full Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) Human Rights Assessment for countries where Human Rights compliance is of concern and will consult through IPAB Support the relevant British High Commission or British Embassy based in that country for their views.

It will then go for final approval by the relevant authorising person, this may be the Head of the Department or the appropriate Minister depending on the Human Rights assessment grading.

When would the College decline to provide international policing assistance?

There could be many reasons why the College would not undertake work to support international police forces. This could include but is not limited to:

  • Work that has not been approved by the IPAB as described above 
  • Putting our staff or associates at unnecessary risk
  • Where we did not have the skills to deliver high quality training
  • Anything that was wholly inconsistent with the Code of Ethics.

Why don't you disclose commercial details about the international assistance the College is providing?

There are a number of reasons why the College may not disclose specific details of all overseas assistance including where:

  • To do so could expose vulnerabilities in the capability of overseas police forces that could be exploited by criminals
  • British citizens deployed overseas could be put at risk by such disclosure
  • We have a duty to the organisations we work with to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality on both technical and commercial details
  • Our work may have links to counterterrorism or protecting UK citizens both here and abroad.

The College does, however, publish a list of the countries we have worked with and the total income we receive (see next question).

Why does the College receive money for international policing assistance?

As beneficiaries of the College's services, the costs of any training or consultancy are borne by the overseas bodies that receive assistance. In some instances, these costs may be subsidised by other UK government departments.

The College operates in a landscape with similar services being offered by other international police services and the private sector and we have a duty to protect public funds by remaining competitive. Publishing the exact figure paid by individual countries could significantly undermine our ability to carry out that duty.

In balancing the College's duty to remain competitive while at the same time being transparent, we can publish the overall amount of approximately £9,914,544 which the College has generated in income/revenue as a result of the international services that we have provided since our inception in December 2012.

The College is also required to act in accordance with Treasury guidelines on Managing Public Money (MPM).

Managing Public Money states that:

Some public sector services are discretionary i.e. no statute underpins them. Services of this kind are often supplied into competitive markets, though sometimes the public sector supplier has a monopoly or other natural advantage.

Charges for these services should be set at a commercial rate. The rate should deliver a commercial return on the use of public resources deployed in supplying the service. So the financial target should be in line with market practice, using a risk weighted rate of return on capital related to the sector concerned. The rate of return used in pricing calculations for sales into commercial markets should be:

  • For sales into commercial markets, in line with competitors' assessment of their business risk, rising to higher rates for more risky activities; or
  • Where a public sector body supplies another, or operates in a market without competitors, the standard rate for the cost of capital

What countries does the College provide international assistance to?

​The College has provided international policing assistance in the following countries and geographic regions:


Countries and Geographical Regions
​Abu Dhabi​Afghanistan​Albania
Barbados ​Belize​ ​Bermuda
​Bosnia Botswana ​​Brunei
​Canada China​ ​Colombia
​Cyprus ​Dubai​Ecuador
​EgyptEuropean UnionFalkland Islands
 ​Fiji​GermanyGhana ​
Gibraltar ​IndiaHong Kong ​Honduras
IndiaIndonesia ​Ireland
Kuwait​​KyrgyzstanLebanese Republic
Namibia​NepalNew Zealand
​RomaniaRwanda​Saudi Arabia
Serbia​​SeychellesSierra Leone
Singapore​Somalia​Sri Lanka
St Kitts and Nevis​​SwedenSwitzerland
​Tanzania​Thailand Trinadad and Tobago
​Tunisia​UgandaUnited States of America

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