University of Derby institute seeks to sharpen police practice worldwide

International Policing and Justice Institute integrates practical police training into an academic context

January 14, 2016
Policeman speaking to motorcyclist, Malacca, Malaysia
Source: Alamy
By the book: the training of Malaysia’s police will be accredited by Derby

There has been a growing drive in the UK in recent years to increase training and education for police officers.

In 2013, a report from the Independent Police Commission recommended professionalising the role by calling for officers to register for chartered status, and the year before that the College of Policing was established to deliver a number of training and development programmes.

A new institute at the University of Derby seeks to further advance the professionalisation of the sector, within the UK and abroad, as well as to undertake research to aid the development of law and policy.

The International Policing and Justice Institute, which officially launched in November, provides academic programmes for those working in the policing, security and justice sectors, offers bespoke consultancy services and supports more than 20 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in leadership, general policing and investigation.

It is located in One Friar Gate Square, which has been appropriately nicknamed the “Copper Box” because of the distinctive copper-plating on the exteriorsays Kevin Bampton, the institute’s director. The building houses the university’s College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences, but the institute also draws on expertise from scholars in forensics, computing, engineering, architecture and business.

Academics in the university’s law and criminology departments “have been heavily involved with the professionalisation agenda – moving the police from a security-based organisation that is ‘command and control’ to [an organisation of] people who are actively managing the relationships with the public”, Professor Bampton said.

The institute has established partnerships with international police forces that want to integrate practical training of recruits into an academic framework. One such partner is Royal Malaysia Police – which marks the first time that a UK university has become the awarding body for an entire country’s police force. It means that every police officer in Malaysia will have their training accredited by the University of Derby.

Derby is also working with the Police College of Qatar, which opened in March 2015. Professor Bampton said that the country is looking to alter its traditional security-focused approach to policing ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which it will host. Meanwhile, about 50 middle-ranking police officers from the United Arab Emirates have already graduated from Derby’s MSc criminal investigation programme.

Back at home, the institute is working with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to establish an international anti-slavery academy, which will offer a range of courses to employers on identifying the signs of exploitation and human trafficking.

The outward-looking agenda notwithstanding, Professor Bampton said that he is keen to ensure that the institute has a close relationship with students and academics in the university and that it is not seen as a “spin-off organisation”. Undergraduate and postgraduate students on one of Derby’s policing or criminology courses will be taught by the same academics who are engaged with these national and international partnerships, he said. Furthermore, last year undergraduates visited the infamous former federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in California and worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to learn about its criminal justice and policing system, thanks to the institute’s international outreach.

“A lot of our students, through the auspices of their institute, are getting the opportunity to get hands-on experience in terms of the intellectual part of policing – analysis, evaluation and evidence-based policing – in the UK,” Professor Bampton said. “Our aspiration is that in the future we’ll be able to have our students and staff engaged even more overseas.”

He added that the institute’s experience and expertise abroad will inform the content of its degrees.

“More of our postgraduates are international students than home students, so what we do throughout the world feeds directly into their classroom experience. And our relationship with other organisations means that we have detailed case studies that we can share,” he said.

There is also a benefit for academics who are seeking to demonstrate their international impact, he argued. “When academics are coming up with new ideas of how to improve the quality of policing, we have access to quite literally thousands of officers.”

But he wants to make one thing clear: the institute will not “actively seek research projects that other people think are important”.

“We set our own research agenda on the back of the issues we consider to be of high priority,” he said.

“That’s quite an interesting model in some respects because most university institutes tend to have the view that they’ll follow the investment. But often the challenges in terms of international policing are in the areas where there isn’t a huge amount of upfront investment, so you have to think creatively.”

In numbers

6,800 police officers were pursuing awards at Derby in 2014-15

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