Shake-up in police training
TRAINING is being significantly reshaped to sharpen the instincts and street sense of police recruits.
Police Training School deputy commandant Senior Superintendent Anthony McLoughlin said the 24-week residential course had been lengthened by one week to include extra tactical firearms training and social science lessons.
A study team is considering further refining the course and may bolster practical and philosophical aspects of training.
To cater for such increased practical components, police chiefs have cut the time devoted to repetitive drill exercises. It now comprises only 13 per cent of total recruit training despite once making up almost one-fifth of the course.
However, police reformers have not succeeded in a long-running campaign to scrap rigorous rifle drills.
Police officials are examining the introduction of courses in constitutional affairs, the structure and hierarchy of the police force itself, the avoidance of public complaints and the historical philosophy of policing and its context in the modern era.
''It was all a bit stereotyped in places and it was generally felt that there was room for improvement,'' Mr McLoughlin said.
''There are a number of studies being conducted at the moment on certain aspects of police recruit training.
''It is true that we have continually been cutting back on drill. It is now at a level we believe is commensurate with the standards which we wish to instil.'' After years of struggling to fulfil its establishment target, the force is now basing monthly recruit intakes on perceived attrition rates.
This sees anywhere between 45 and 75 officers in each class.
In these courses, the drill is burdensome, rigidly structured and, in the main, disliked. It involves marching, parade techniques, foot drill and regular inspections.
Rifle drills are centred on hours of marching, practising various ceremonial manoeuvres with a long-arm weapon weighing close to 5.5 kilograms.
Mr McLoughlin said drill was a large factor in enforcing discipline and pride in the police.
''We are a paramilitary force,'' he said, ''and drill instils a sense of discipline - self-discipline. It also gives a person bearing.
''In my view, the rifle drill makes passing-out parades smarter and improves co-ordination, strength and skill.'' Police also directly recruit at the level of inspector but the composition of these classes is changing.
Every eight weeks, 22 men and women start the 36-week course for senior command but, because of dwindling expatriate numbers, more than 50 per cent of classes are now filled by rank-and-file police.
In recent years, fewer than a third of aspiring inspectors have come from this pool, commonly termed force entry.
In the next 12 months, funding has been guaranteed for 32 police to be recruited from the United Kingdom under the inspectors programme.
It is not yet known when this policy will end.
Meanwhile, tactical firearms training has been incorporated into recruit training to improve the manner in which police confront criminals with high-powered weapons.