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Fundamental review into the College of Policing

Published on 10 February 2022
The fundamental review will improve leadership, standards and professionalism across policing
3 mins read
Nick Herbert, Lord Herbert of South Downs

Following a fundamental review into the College of Policing, we've set a new vision to help policing and improve the service to the public.

The review has set out three key priorities. These are:

  • boosting professionalism – ensuring officers and staff have access to the best in CPD and that it is properly prioritised
  • improving leadership – officers and staff at all levels to have their leadership skills developed
  • driving consistency – overcoming the weaknesses of the 43-force model to bring consistency where it matters most for the public and those working in policing

The fundamental review was launched in March 2021 by Lord Herbert of the South Downs, Chair of the College of Policing.

Its aim was to:

  • conduct an assessment of the College’s role, its effectiveness and how it operates alongside other organisations in the policing landscape
  • ensure that the College is highly valued by every section of policing, from frontline officers and staff to chief constables and police and crime commissioners

Police officers and staff do an incredible job in difficult circumstances and deserve to have a strong professional body alongside them, support them with better training, professional development and the evidence of what works to cut crime.   

The police service faces myriad challenges, from its relationship with Black communities and how it protects women, to the need to respond to ever-changing crime threats. The culture within policing is under the microscope, with questions being asked about leadership and professionalism.  

The College must take a lead role in helping policing meet these challenges, but it cannot achieve the necessary cultural change on its own. The review shows there is appetite from the rest of the service to work with the College to help policing meet the high standards the public rightly expect.

Lord Herbert of the South Downs, College of Policing Chair


Policing is becoming increasing complex and the culture and standards in the service are subject to increasing scrutiny.

To capture these challenges, the review involved extensive consultation with people from different ranks, grades and roles across policing, to find out what they want from their College of Policing. This included one-to-one interviews, written evidence, focus groups, visits to forces, and a survey with approximately 15,000 responses from officers and staff.

Respondents to the review recognised the College’s success in addressing issues in some critical areas of policing. These included our response to COVID-19, identifying future challenges for policing, supporting senior leaders, wellbeing and APP in high-risk areas.

Challenges identified in policing included:

  • the lack of professional development
  • insufficient investment in the development of leadership at all ranks
  • an absence of coordinated strategic thinking across policing
  • a blurring of responsibilities at a national level
  • being insufficiently equipped to respond to the increasing digital aspects of crime 

Suggested improvements to tackle these issues include the College acting as a national centre for police leadership, making guidance and knowledge of what works more accessible to those out on the front line through a College app, and introducing a new consistent approach to personal development for everyone in policing.

Next steps

We are setting out a clear strategy and business plan to show how we will implement the findings of the review.

To ensure the College meets its potential, we will work with our partners across the service to explore how we can improve our offer to police officers and staff.

We have a vital role in providing more coordinated and consistent support to officers and staff across England and Wales, in collaboration with police forces and national organisations including the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Throughout my 34 years in policing, I have seen thousands of examples of professionalism and leadership, many of which have been admired nationally, and even globally. Policing is full of dedicated officers and staff who work selflessly to make a difference every day. But they need our help.  

The sometimes-overwhelming demands and challenges placed on officers and staff mean they rarely have the opportunity to reflect and learn, or even, look after themselves and their own wellbeing. These challenges should never be an excuse, but if they are not addressed by strong leadership, they can create breeding grounds for the type of toxic culture seen recently. 

Through this review, the College of Policing is renewing its mission to become the dynamic, relevant and connected professional body it was created to be. I am confident that the findings of this review, combined with the committed efforts of the people who work across the College, will mean policing’s professional body will provide real value to the service and the public in the coming years.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, College of Policing CEO

With these changes, policing will be better able to respond to the challenges it faces, improve the confidence of communities, cut crime and keep people safe.

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