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Building the evidence base for effective tutoring of police recruits

Exploring the challenges and opportunities associated with the roles of police tutors and assessors.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Lead researcher, Dr Tom Cockcroft; Principal investigator, Dr Emma Williams
Police region
South East
Level of research
Professional/work based
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

It is generally recognised that tutors play a crucial role in supporting officer capability. With the increase of officers being recruited through the Police Uplift Programme and the continued roll out and adoption of the policing education qualifications framework (PEQF), it is also accepted that more research is needed to better understand the most effective ways of developing and providing tutoring. This is considered key to facilitating the step change in workforce capability and wider modernisation.

Understandably, given their remit, the need for forces to meet the tutoring requirements of policing recruits has been recognised as a crucial issue for the delivery of Uplift. Ensuring forces have significant capacity through effective workforce planning and modelling to identify appropriate numbers of tutor constables is central to this aspiration.

However, ensuring that such resources have the required capability to deliver an effective learning and assessment experience for the recruit is equally important. Beyond developing a positive workplace learning experience for the new officers, tutors – together with first line supervisors – help establish a culture of support and also re-enforce professional standards and organisational values through their actions.

In many respects, their approach to the role can significantly shape the workplace experience for new recruits and have a significant bearing on how the recruit adapts to their new environment. Research commissioned by the Uplift Programme from the Open University (OU) highlights the significant role that tutors and assessors play in early years retention.

Data collected by the Uplift Programme shows that, at present, forces have been able to identify and resource the required numbers of constables and sergeants to deliver tutoring to all recruits. However, conversations with the College of Policing and insight from forces highlights the need to continue to build individual capability of the tutors and develop wider organisational support to improve the current delivery models and quality of workplace learning.

Work has been undertaken by the College over the last year to support forces with tutoring, including providing guidance and implementation support, and further work is planned throughout 2021 and 2022 with a new implementation lead role in the College.

The College has gathered data which provides an increased understanding of the different models being applied by forces, as well as by other professions. However, no assessment has been conducted of what works well and which are the most important elements of effective models of development and delivery.

A robust evidence base will enable the College of Policing and the Uplift Programme to support forces to improve tutoring by updating products and actively sharing the findings with forces.

Research methodology

​This programme of research seeks to engage with police forces throughout England and Wales to ascertain:

  • how tutor constables are deployed within them
  • the reasons for deployment
  • the consequences of deployment
  • the challenges and opportunities associated with the tutor constable programme

There are two elements of the research which will require interaction with human participants to generate data. These are data requests to individual police forces and semi-structured interviews.

Data requests will be sent by email to the learning and development leads for each police force in England and Wales. It is important to note here that the request will be for existing factual data rather than a means of eliciting opinions or experiences about the subject matter being investigated.

Types of data that will be requested in this exercise will be information regarding, for example, the type of tutoring model run in a particular force or whether incentives are offered. We are therefore using this approach to access existing data rather than generate new data. The data requested is non-sensitive and does not pertain to private individual data.

Interviews will be with between two to four members of the College of Policing and of individual forces who have a strategic or operational role pertaining to the tutor constable programme. Interviews will be semi-structured to allow for interviewees to address issues that may have been unidentified by the researchers and to allow for the probing of specific points.

Interviews will be conducted through and recorded via a digital conferencing platform. Recordings will be then transcribed (by either a member of the research team or by a professional transcribing service) and subjected to thematic analysis.

Interim reports or publications

The research will report in spring 2022 (phase one) and autumn 2022 (phase two).

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