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Education for Police Officers

5 Comments 16th May 2015

Police officers need basic English literacy and basic numeracy in order to be effective in their work.

It should be the case that he police force is an 'investors in people' organisation, that new officers do not get on the basic pay grade until they are qualified (literate and numerate), until which time, they should be obliged to take day release classes in English language reading, comprehension, and writing, alongside classes in basic mathematics. Probably someone else will add some form of training in reasoning and mediation.

During this time they would be paid a reduced wage. These are fundamental and basic skills that should equip every school leaver to be gainfully employed, but in the police they are essential skills for an officer to be fully productive no matter how well an officer can hold and use a riot shield, most officers need written English skills daily.

One could add that police officers passing basic spoken language skills in foreign languages – let the exam boards decide this – could receive a one-off bonus payment to aid in policing our many foreign visitors and immigrant communities. Such payments would be higher for unusual languages, such as Russian, less for langugages of nations who generally speak English, such as German or Swedish, and nominal (perhaps to certify the officers skill) for languages that officers already speak as their second language but which are nonetheless useful in their police work.

Why does this matter?

We deserve an educated police force, one that is numerate and literate sufficient to take a statement in a short time, process paperwork efficiently, not one that avoids paperwork whenever possible or takes hours to process just one event, nor one that misunderstands people and situations due to a poor grasp of the English language. We should not be paying such ill-educated people the full police wage – this as an incentive for officers to study and get suitably educated, and as a means to improve police efficiency and effectiveness.

Yes, I realise there is room for a joke about this – what advantage there would be in police officers discussing Shakespeare whilst policing football matches, etc. etc. !

But many police officers are currently illiterate and innumerate. This is no joke if you try to give a witness statement and want to get home this side of midnight. My last effort cost me 5 hours for a statement I could have written and checked in 10 minutes. If you are wrongfully accused and have to wait for the paperwork to be processed, this could unfairly cost you a nights sleep or worse. It is costing the tax payer millions.


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