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Paying to police…? Will it cost to join the College?

Money-shots-015Will police officers have to pay to become members of the College of Policing? What will they get for being a “standard” member and a “premium” member?

David Buckle, director of membership for the College of Policing, explains while it is likely every officer will become a member – they will have a choice over whether to pay a subscription fee.

See below for full interview.

What is the latest on police officers and staff becoming members of the College of Policing – and them having to pay for it?

All of the aspects that officers and staff need to do their job will be free. And we are consulting with our potential members about what services we can provide to them that will save them money and make them more effective around their own kind of personal/professional  [development] whether it is applying for promotion or pursuing their career. So essentially we are differentiating from those services which are required to do the job and those that people require or would ask of us as their professional body to help them in their personal career aspirations.

So there is likely to be a charge for them to get services that, say, help them get promotion?

No. I think we need to be very clear here. Everything that somebody needs to do, to say apply to become a sergeant… what qualifications they need, what the process is with the “standard” membership of the college and there is no charge for that. What we would be trying to do is to get a better price, a better deal and a better service for those things that [an officer] is currently spending his money on [to help gain promotion] elsewhere.

The paid for membership is being called “premium” membership. Is this two tiered approach of “standard” and “premium” membership for officers and staff a new departure?

The College’s position was that membership is free for three years and it is committed to that. And the position is that, and [it] will be stated in the five year strategy, that [membership] will be free for as long as we can afford for it to be free. Who knows what will happen in the future landscape. But at the moment everything that we are doing is assuming that that level of service will be provided to people because it is part of their job.

Will everyone automatically be a member of the College? Do they have to click a link or sign a piece of paper? How does that work?

What we are currently doing for the first phase of membership is bringing all the current kind of College capability into [a] consolidated service. So at the moment, for example, if you want to log in the MLE [the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies Managed Learning Environment] if you want to get the Legal Digest, you’ve got to log into separate systems. We are going to bring all that into one what we call federated log-in – so a single sign on to all of those services. And at that point, when people are signing up for the new technology service, we will be asking them to reconfirm to the code of ethics… and say that they are now becoming a “standard” member of the College.

What is the time scale on people joining?

The “standard” membership… we are aiming to deliver around March/April time with the standard set of services which we are hoping will also include CPD [continuous professional development] recording and any portfolios, which will help both our members and forces in terms of recording qualifications. That is the kind of timescale that we are working on at the moment. The kind of availability of “premium” services will really depend on consultation with our members [and] what they value most and how quickly we can switch those on.

Can you give examples on what officers will get as part of signing up to the “standard” membership?

So the standard membership will include access to POLKA (the Police OnLine Knowledge Area). The online learning environment that we call MLE or some people refer to as NCALT – it will include CPD [continuous professional development] provided we that have CPD recording so obviously we will have records of courses that people have booked on [and] online programmes they have done – they will be able to upload those straight into their qualifications database. We will have the legal digests within there…, course booking, Authorisation of Professional Practice…those sensitive parts of APP will be available through the system.

And with the “premium” – will it just be around learning and development? Or will it be other things that “premium” membership offers?

We did a survey with some 2,700 officers and staff electronically, and we conducted 69 face-to-face interviews as part of the consultation. The things that people were really keen that we could do for them [were] personal career advice, helping them with the kind of skills/accreditation framework, “how do these skills relate to the outside world?” Job opportunities within policing-whether attachments, secondments, nationally, you know at the moment they are saying “I’m really keen to do this… I don’t know where the opportunities are.” For some of them, what training the College does. Mobile Apps, personalised news feeds, “how-to” guides. [although these could come back into “standard”] Networking – connect me to people across forces who have got an interest in particular areas, inside or outside of policing. Personalised job opportunities and career advice is clearly something to me that would fit within a “premium”, professional body. Some of the “how-to” guides and some of the mobility and access to information will probably fit into the standard membership.

Is “premium” likely to be a one off annual fee, direct debit per month, bolt-ons depending on how much you want, how is that going to work for officers…”?

I need to provide services and benefits that officers and staff want to pay for out of their own money. I would expect that probably we will end up with a monthly fee taken by direct debit… on the assumption that [the College is] going to be able to provide [officers] with, if you like, annual benefits. Some of the [College’s] front-line champions were saying that “what I really want is gym membership and broadband or mobile phone usage, cheaper access to some books and Apps.” Potentially, this is all up in the air, but potentially lifestyle benefits around health insurance [could be included]. I don’t really want to get into the kind of insurance market – it’s not quite in my plan yet, but… you can see that [if] there are monthly benefits I am giving for membership I will be charging a monthly fee. Clearly on top of that if somebody wants to buy a book, that is going to be a transaction charge at the time. The answer is probably both. I very much expect and hope that it will be a mixture of both, but ultimately I want my members to say “this is really good value for money. It is just what I want and I tell you what that is really worth every penny.” That is what we are seeking.

Any idea of how much the cost to be a “premium” member will be at this stage?

Honestly no. [The cost] really needs to reflect what we are offering and lots of conversation is going on… providers of services are very keen to get access to a very trusted and large potential client base and, ultimately, I’ve just got to match that price to what we can give [officers].

Can officers say “I don’t want to be a member” even at the “standard” level?

I think that is going to be difficult. Essentially, when you sign up to use online services, you are signing up to some terms and conditions and we are going to be expecting as people [interact] with College and that they become members at that “standard” level, including signing up to the code of ethics and the terms of use. So I cannot see a reason why someone would find that difficult. It is not something that is a big question for me at the moment.

Date posted: October 31, 2014

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