Initial Police Learning

The full Initial Curriculum is made up of four programmes comprising the initial learning for police constables, police community support officers, special constables and those undertaking a College of Policing approved Pre-Join programme of learning.

Student typeProgramme nameDescription
Police constablesInitial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP)A two-year programme with approximately 35 weeks of supporting learning materials.

Mandatory qualification: Diploma in Policing (PC)(see below).
Police community support officersPCSO National Learning ProgrammeApproximately 10 weeks of direct learning, normally completed over a period of six to 12 months.

Non-mandatory qualification:  Diploma in Policing (PCSO) (see below).
Special constablesInitial Learning for the Special Constabulary (IL4SC)Same as IPLDP but broken-down into 3 phases:  Phase 1 - culminating in 'fit for accompanied patrol', Phase 2 - ' fit for independent patrol' and Phase 3 - 'fully competent'.
​Students wishing to join the service as a regular PCApproved Pre-Join to Policing​Approximately 12 weeks of direct learning taken over varying timescales. E.g. day-release, full-time, evenings and weekends, through HE, FE, and private sector approved providers. 

Principal features

The National Curriculum for each programme is presented through learning outcomes contained in module specifications/descriptors.  Wherever appropriate the same outcomes and modules are used across each programme.

All Initial Learning materials are available free of charge (under licence) to Home Office forces online via the College of Policing's Managed Learning Environment (MLE).  Forces may choose to develop additional local material to support/compliment the national learning programme.

The Initial Learning curriculum introduces many aspects of other College of Policing learning programmes at initial/first responder level - these include the Code of Ethics, Evidence-Based Policing, Professionalising the Investigation Process (PIP) Forensics 21, Protecting Vulnerable People including Child Sexual Exploitation and Modern Slavery, Mental Ill Health, Equality and Human Rights, Search and many more. By embedding jointly developed materials from other programmes, we ensure that the Initial Learning suite of programmes remains current, contemporary and congruous with advancements across the service.

All Initial Learning materials are maintained and updated in response to feedback from forces, legislative changes, doctrine development, best practice, strategic directives and other environmental scanning.

The learning experience

Student officers will experience learning in the classroom and the workplace, as well as involving the people and communities they will be serving, through local community placement and engagement.

The learning experience is supported by a variety of learning interventions supported by both centrally and locally developed resources.  Typically these might include:

  • case studies/scenarios
  • student notes
  • e-learning/distance learning
  • facilitated group discussions
  • individual and group exercises
  • practical exercises
  • presentations
  • workplace coaching/mentoring
  • attachments
  • supported role plays
  • multiple-choice questions
  • knowledge checks
  • formative assessments
  • immersive learning through HYDRA exercises

To ensure that student officers are fully equipped to deal with the challenges of modern-day policing, support, advice and guidance through the initial programmes is provided locally through force trainers, operational tutors, operational line managers and supervisors.

Initial qualifications and assessment


From April 2016 the Diploma in Policing (PC) for IPLDP was introduced as the minimum national qualification. This 10-unit qualification is available under Ofqual's Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) and is administered through the main national awarding organisations.

In addition to the Diploma in Policing qualification, forces must ensure that the mandatory outcomes detailed in the national IPLDP curriculum are fully achieved.


From April 2016 the non-mandatory Diploma in Policing (PCSO) qualification was introduced to accredit the national PCSO programme. This is a six-unit qualification, available under Ofqual's Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF), and is administered through the main national awarding bodies. The PCSO qualification has four QCF units which are common with the IPLDP qualification. This provides opportunities for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for those PCSOs wishing to become police constables.


Because special constables (SCs) are bestowed with the same powers as those of a regular police constable (PC), as may be expected, the national initial learning programme for special constables (IL4SC), in total is the same as that for PCs (IPLDP).  Owing to the limited time SCs have for learning, assessment and operational deployment (on average working 2 days per week) the IL4SC has been broken down into 3 distinct phases:

Phase 1 - Learning and assessment which culminates in the SC being 'fit for accompanied patrol', in the company of a qualified SC or PC.

Phase 2 - Learning and assessment which culminates in the SC being 'fit for independent patrol'.  This is assessed through the Police Action Checklist (PAC) during a period of 'coached' or 'tutored' patrol with a Tutor Constable.

Phase 3 - The remainder of the IPLDP (PC) learning and completion of the Diploma in Policing (PC).

The new Policing Education Qualification Framework (PEQF) entry requirements from 01st January 2020 for Police Constable Recruits will be one of the following:-

  • Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA)
  • Degree Holder Entry Programme
  • A pre-join Degree in Policing

More information in relation to these entry routes can be found on our Policing Education Qualification Framework page.

Additional information is available on the Police Recruitment pages, if you need further information about any of the above, contact

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