An education qualification framework for policing

We have commenced a programme of work to design a Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) intended to support the development of policing as a profession through the provision of a coherent national approach to recognising and raising educational standards in policing.

Latest News

Recognition of Prior Experience and Learning

'The College of Policing is now accepting applications from registered qualifications providers to have their courses listed in our new Recognition of Prior Experience and Learning (RPL) Directory, due to be launched early October. Further information is available on the RPL page. 

Update – Release of PC Degree Apprenticeship Resources

Resources are now available to support planning for delivery of the PC Degree Apprenticeship. Further detail as to how these resources may be accessed are available in bespoke letters accessible via the below links:

Any other interested parties should contact

Future-proofing policing

Significant developments in how police are promoted, qualified and enter the service will change the future of policing, it has been announced by the College of Policing.

For the first time, police officers across England and Wales can get the recognition seen in other professions by obtaining education qualifications which acknowledge the skills and professionalism required to do their job.

Message from Chief Constable Alex Marshall, College of Policing CEO, to officers and staff

The nature of police work has changed significantly.
Cyber-enabled crime has increased. So has the need for officers and staff to investigate and gather intelligence online and via information technology. Protecting vulnerable people has rightly become a high priority for policing. Officers and staff now spend more of their time working to prevent domestic abuse, monitor high-risk sex offenders and protect at-risk children.

We recognise that the strengths of policing include its accessibility as a career to people of all backgrounds and it being a vocation. We want to preserve these strengths. But we also want to ensure that the increasingly complex activities undertaken by people working in policing are properly recognised.
And it’s important to promote consistent and high standards of service for the public.

The response rate to our PEQF consultation was one of the highest ever received by the College and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to provide feedback. More than 3,000 people responded, with nearly 80 per cent of responses coming from police officers.

We’ve considered this feedback and amended the proposals to better reflect the wishes of our members and other stakeholders. The College Board has agreed that the College should now take the updated proposals forward. Of course, there’ll still be some additional work to ensure implementation timescales are realistic and achievable.


We have incredibly hardworking and dedicated employees across policing who are working at a graduate level now. But they’re not getting the same recognition that people in other professions benefit from.

Nearly three quarters of respondents in policing agreed and said they were interested in gaining accreditation for their existing skills. By next summer, the College will publish a directory of education qualifications for officers and staff including guidance as to how their on-the-job experience counts towards recognition.
The directory will also include advice on what funding may be available to support them.

In addition to obtaining recognition, our plans include a national set of qualifications for officers following promotion. There’ll also be new entry routes for people wanting to join a police force.


By 2020, following promotion officers will be supported in gaining a qualification which reflects the nature of their role.

For example, all newly promoted sergeants will undergo a 12-month higher-level apprenticeship in leadership and management. They’ll be confirmed in post on completion.

Newly promoted inspectors will have to obtain a similar qualification at a higher standard and newly promoted superintendents will complete a master’s apprenticeship. All of this will be paid for by their police force.

Officers seeking the rank of assistant chief constable or above will require a master’s before applying


Entry to the police service will also change. Beyond 2020, there will be three available options:

  • a police constable degree apprenticeship paid for by the force, allowing individuals to obtain a policing degree and earn while they learn
  • a specific policing degree as seen in other professions
  • for graduates, a graduate programme which will also be paid for by the police force

Our plans will future-proof policing so that, as it becomes more complex, officers will be accredited to the appropriate standard. Regardless of which force they’re in, they’ll know that their skills and knowledge match those of colleagues elsewhere in the country.

We’ll continue to update you on our progress. If you have any further questions not answered below, please contact us by emailing


 Proposal 1 – Establish a qualifications framework

What changes have you made to this proposal since the consultation feedback?

​The College of Policing is grateful for all the feedback received and has changed the proposals as a result. The changes are outlined in more detail in the Consultation Response Paper and include:

  • Instead of minimum education levels being set as a prerequisite for appointment or promotion as proposed initially, they will be achieved through professional development and achieving the appropriate qualification will be required for confirmation in post at each organisational level or rank.
  • The revised version of the framework will draw heavily on a model of apprenticeships, offering a sound educational approach as well as funding opportunities that will support most forces and individual learners.
  • A PC degree apprenticeship has been developed with the potential to broaden applications and attract people to a career which they may not previously have considered. The opportunity to earn while learning and to have a degree qualification fully funded presents this opportunity for a diverse range of potential applicants.
  • Further engagement and detailed consultation with forces to agree and define an appropriate timescale for full national implementation of the proposals is needed.

I am an existing officer/member of police staff with no interest in gaining a qualification. How does this affect me?

​Existing officers and staff will not be required to work toward or gain an education qualification in order to remain in their current role.

Will I be required to hold an education qualification to move into a specialist post?

​It's likely to be the case, but work to discuss and establish the qualifications necessary for those moving into specialist and specific staff roles will not start until the summer of 2017, with implementation not likely before 2019. Further details will be published in due course.

Will I need to have an education qualification in order to be promoted?

No you won't, unless you are applying for the Strategic Command Course (SCC). All other newly
promoted officers will be supported with gaining qualifications as shown below:

  • sergeants will complete a 12-month higher-level apprenticeship (with a professional level 6 leadership and management-focused accredited qualification embedded) in order to be confirmed in post following promotion, replacing the existing level 4 qualification that forms stage 4 of the NPPF for sergeants
  • inspectors will achieve a post-graduate certificate (level 7) qualification (which has a core focus on leadership and management) in order to be confirmed in post following promotion, replacing the existing level 5 qualification that forms stage 4 of the NPPF for inspectors
  • superintendents will complete a master's apprenticeship (level 7) in order to be confirmed in post
  • there will be a requirement to hold a level 7 qualification as a prerequisite for entry to the SCC
  • the SCC will be reviewed and there is potential for the revised programme to carry credits towards a level 8 professional doctorate programme.

Any requirements following promotion are planned for initial introduction at the earliest in 2019 and will not be mandated until at least 2020.

I am an experienced serving officer. Will I have to pay for these new educational qualifications?

​No, not if the requirement to achieve the qualification follows a promotion, as this will form part of your development into the new role.

Each respective qualification will be obtained through the learning programme that will support individuals in gaining the knowledge, skills and competencies required when they move to a new role on promotion or, in due course, into a specialist post. With the exception of the pre-join degree in the policing entry route, the learning required for new officers in the role to meet the appropriate education level will be achieved through professional development and not at the expense of the individual.

When will the requirement for new in-post officers to achieve these education levels be implemented?

The proposals will be implemented in a phased approach over the next few years, following further consultation and in collaboration with forces and partners in higher education. Although full implementation of all proposals was originally proposed for 2020, the College will conduct further engagement with forces before confirming the date by which all forces will be required to have implemented each element of the framework.

Further modelling and consultation with chief constables and police and crime commissioners is needed to explore what a reasonable timeframe for implementation might be, taking into account the workforce planning, cost and infrastructure implications and challenges for forces.

Why is the PC apprenticeship three years but the sergeant apprenticeship can be done in 12 months?

The PC degree apprenticeship leads to a degree qualification. The sergeant higher-level apprenticeship will offer a professional level 6 leadership and management qualification in the form of a certificate or diploma. 

If I am a PC who already holds a master’s qualification, will I still have to undertake the sergeant apprenticeship and inspector’s post-graduate certificate following promotion?

The specific content of the qualification at each level remains subject to confirmation, but it is anticipated that individuals would need to demonstrate achievement against the appropriate police curriculum to be confirmed in post. There will be use of recognised prior learning (RPL) and advanced standing mechanisms to ensure unnecessary duplication does not occur.

Will the sergeant and superintendent pay scales be adjusted to reflect the apprenticeship at those levels? Will there be different pay pre-qualification and post-qualification?

​There will be no change to these pay scales to reflect qualifications at this point. Pay scales are reviewed and determined each year by the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB). There are currently a number of changes happening or being proposed to the future workforce framework, PEQF being one of them. These will inform what a future reward framework looks like (including a review of pay scales). If any changes are needed, then these will be recommended to the PRRB for consideration.

What will the College do to support force implementation of the PEQF?

The College will work with forces to identify the appropriate timeframe for transition and will offer support in various ways, including:

  • developing new qualifications
  • providing support to forces and higher education partners to enable them to establish and develop effective partnerships
  • supporting forces with considering and reviewing approaches to workforce planning and resourcing
  • negotiating amendments to any relevant police regulations.

When will the first qualifications be introduced?

​The first qualification (linked to the PC degree apprenticeship entry route) is likely to be available from April 2018 for introduction in forces seeking early adoption.

What about officers that want to go part-time or take maternity leave/career break while studying for their qualification? What flexibility is there in delivering an apprenticeship?

​Further details regarding arrangements in these respects will be published in due course. The College will ensure the arrangements will not discriminate against anyone with protected characteristics in line with the Equality Act and the government's apprenticeship rules.

I’m a special constable – how can the PEQF help me and what qualifications will I need?

​The implications for colleagues working in special constable roles remain subject to discussion and further information will be published in due course. There will be no requirement, however, for existing colleagues to achieve an education qualification.

Won’t these proposals result in an unfair advantage for those who already have externally accredited qualifications?

No, there's no requirement for any qualification to be held in order to apply for promotion, except for those seeking access to chief officer ranks. The College believes that the proposals will be a positive move toward enabling those who do not currently have qualifications to achieve them. An equality analysis has been conducted and this will be regularly reviewed throughout to inform the future development of the programme.


 Proposal 2 – Develop opportunities for existing officers and staff

Will the College provide a National Framework for the support forces should provide?

The College recognises the vast diversity between forces and the differing local priorities and challenges. This means a 'one size fits all' approach would not be appropriate. Instead the College has produced a guidance document containing a variety of suggestions and considerations which a force should tailor to suit their own needs and situation. This guidance document is viewed as a living document which will evolve as more evidence is gathered to support the best practise in supporting officers and staff to achieve academic and professional qualifications.

When is this going to start?

The intention is that the online tool, which will include the College of Policing Directory of recognised qualification providers and the Credit Estimator will be live from the beginning of October. 

Have all Universities agreed to these credits?

A Directory of providers that have agreed to the process will be available on the online tool due to go live in October, this will include Universities and other organisations offering professional qualifications. It will contain information about the courses available, how they are taught and assessed, the course cost, RPL cost and location, along with direct links to the course listed. The online tool will also include a Credit Estimator to help individuals see how many credits they might be able to get for their learning.

When will officers and staff start receiving information about RPL?

It has been decided to phase the release of information to allow forces the time to develop their position in relation to the support they can offer to individuals who want to take advantage of the process. Information for forces has been released and information for individuals will be released towards the end of September to coincide with the online tool going live.

What about the PTF bid? We need to know the outcome of this to help with local implementation.

The College recognises that the PTF bid could have a huge impact on what support forces are able to offer. Unfortunately the decision on the success of the bid has been delayed and is out of the control of the College.

Why doesn’t this cover the ranks of Chief Inspector and above?

The intention is that work will be undertaken to more accurately map the skills and experience of Chief Inspectors and above during the next phase of the project. In the first instance ranks of Inspector and below were looked at in line with the PEQF focus on entry routes. Officers above the rank of Inspector would still be able to apply and their course history taken into account based on the NPC Matrix, however at this stage minimum credit values and levels haven't been identified for learning from skills and experience. However, it is likely that at Chief Inspector and above an applicant would be able to gain at least direct entry to a post graduate qualification.

Does this apply to police staff as it seems focussed on police officers?

Yes. This process is aimed at both officers and staff. Not all National Policing Curriculum Course were suitable for awarding credit, however, a number of courses listed will apply to police staff. Learning from experience has also been mapped for police staff. To identify which Level a member of police staff is they are advised to look at their professional profile, also held on the new online tool. The 'what this looks like' examples are currently focussed on the police ranks but the next phase of the work will seek to extend this to cover police staff roles, some of the examples listed under police officers may still be relevant to police staff.





 Proposal 3 – Develop initial entry routes

What qualifications will I need to become a police constable?

​All applicants will need to meet organisational entry requirements, some of which are set nationally. This includes minimum fitness requirements and you will need to be 18 or older. For the PC degree apprenticeship, you are likely to have achieved a level 3 qualification (which is A-level or equivalent) plus level 2 functional skills in English and mathematics (or equivalents) prior to entry. Each force will advertise its own entry requirements, so individuals should check with their preferred force. We suggest you look at our recruitment pages.

The PC degree apprenticeship will be available from April 2018, although the exact date of introduction will vary from force to force. A pre-join degree and graduate entry route should be available from late 2018.

Where does the Certificate of Knowledge in Policing (CKP) fit into the PEQF?

The CKP is a level 3 qualification on the Regulated Qualifications Framework. Further consideration is being applied as to how to manage the transitional phases of the PEQF. Details of any proposed timelines for withdrawing the CKP will be published as soon as they are confirmed.​

Could a force require all their new recruits to come in as graduates or will they be required to offer a minimum number of apprenticeships at PC level?

​A balanced approach across each of the three entry routes appropriate to meet forces' needs is proposed, which should be advantageous for local workforce planning.

Will the selection and assessment process for a police constable still apply to all entry routes?

Yes, the service will continue to need candidates who are able to demonstrate the communication, conflict resolution and people skills required for the role, so holding a policing degree will not guarantee employment, mirroring the approach taken in other professions. All applicants will have to go through the normal recruitment process regardless of entry route. The College is consulting with forces and key partners as to how to effectively align that process in order to achieve national standardisation.

What is a higher-level apprenticeship?

Higher-level apprenticeships offer the opportunity to study and achieve qualifications from level 4 upwards while earning a salary. They include degree and master's-level apprenticeships.

What is the benefit of a degree apprenticeship to an individual and the police service?

​A degree apprenticeship offers new entrants to policing the opportunity to earn a wage while becoming a police constable, with successful candidates acquiring a degree qualification at the end of the learning programme.  

Since the public consultation, the government has announced a new apprenticeship levy for all large employers, to commence in April 2017. Each police force will be required to make contributions to this. The PC degree apprenticeship will enable the police service in England to maximise use of their levy contributions, professionalise police education through partnerships with the higher education sector and potentially broaden opportunities for recruitment across the local community. Further consideration is being applied as to how best to support forces in Wales, where different conditions apply.

How long will the apprenticeship study last and will this be at the equivalent police constable salary for new starters?

​You will be a police constable on a PC degree apprenticeship programme, which will be a minimum of three years. The rate of pay to be applied to this role is currently subject to discussion. Pay scales are reviewed and determined each year by the PRRB.

Who provides the learning and development for an apprentice?

​The College will be encouraging police forces to engage in partnerships with HEIs in delivering the degree apprenticeship programme. Learning and development will therefore be provided by the police force and the higher education partner.

If an apprentice constable does not achieve the level 6 qualification, will they leave policing with nothing to show for it or might they leave policing with a level 4 or 5 qualification instead?

During the apprenticeship, the individual will work towards completing a policing degree. They will accumulate academic credits and it is likely that these will equate to lower-level qualifications on completing each year's learning toward the degree, subject to approval by the awarding HEI.

Who will pay for the cost of my education?

If you undertake a PC degree apprenticeship with a police force, that cost will be borne by the police force.

If you already have a degree in another discipline and apply to join a police force to do a graduate entry course, the cost of that course will also be borne by the police force.

Studying for a recognised degree in policing at a university prior to joining the police service will be at your own expense, mirroring the approach taken in other professions.

As a special constable, I will have gained credits against the NPC. How will this help me become a police constable?

​The College is currently working with partners to explore how any learning and experience gained as a special constable might be recognised in the form of academic credits toward entry to the police service.

How will changing the entry routes into policing help with concerns around diversity?

​Introducing a degree apprenticeship mitigates concerns that the costs of obtaining qualifications might affect policing's ability to secure a diverse and representative workforce. It thus encourages engagement from individuals who might otherwise be unable to afford education at the proposed levels.

Where can I find out the full response to the Developing the Policing Education Qualification Framework Consultation?

Full detail can be found in the consultation response document.

Who can I contact for further information?

​Further information and regular updates will be made available on the College of Policing website throughout this programme of work.

Any questions can be forwarded to

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