The Police Education Qualification Framework: A Professional Agenda or Building Professionals?

Emma Williams, Jenny Norman, Michael Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Given the growing complexity in policing in England and Wales, the College of Policing (CoP) are implementing a Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF) to standardise entry to the police and allow serving officers to gain accreditation for their previous training and experience. This provides occasion to revisit and reconsider longer term international debates about the role and value of tertiary education for policing. Part of this process, in relation to the PEQF, involves the development of a national police curriculum for higher education institutions (HEIs) to deliver to new recruits in the field. This forms part of a wider professionalisation agenda which seeks to align policing with other professions, and enable officers to think more critically about the situations they deal with as part of their role. Sklansky (2014) describes how different definitions of what constitutes professionalism can impact on officers' interpretations of this concept and how they subsequently engage with the proposed reforms. This paper, which is based on in depth qualitative interviews with serving officers who have undertaken an academic qualification in policing, suggests that the relationship between police education and the development of professionalism is complex. Officers need to be trusted and encouraged to use their learning in a way that develops their own personal sense of professionalism. However, this paper will also argue that current perceptions amongst officers are sceptical of the wider agenda and what it really aims to achieve. Rather than being viewed as an enabler to becoming a trusted professional, officers report that standardised prescriptive processes limit the value of ‘traditional’ forms of police knowledge, restricts critical thinking in the field, and stifles their ability to apply their knowledge in work-based decisions and problem-solving. This paper brings into question the development of a standardised curriculum which may ultimately be viewed as further governance over officer behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-272
Number of pages14
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Issue number3
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


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