The Police Academy will subject students to stricter exams

The Police Academy will subject its students to more thorough exams. The exam assignments will better cover the teaching materials and subject matter. Furthermore, the learning assignments students receive will become compulsory with immediate effect. Students will also have more contact hours with their teachers. This will improve the quality of police training.

This is written by Minister Hirsch Ballin (of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Justice) to the Lower House. Last week, he made agreements with the Police Academy about the necessary improvement of the police exams and training. The agreements follow on an investigation of the Public Order and Safety Inspectorate into police training for the positions of assistant police officer (MBO level 2), police officer (MBO level 3) and all-round police officer (MBO level 4). Hirsch Ballin has sent said investigation to the Lower House as well.

According to the Public Order and Safety Inspectorate, the police training exams currently insufficiently cover the knowledge and skills students have to acquire. Police Academy students spend less than the required time on their training. They focus mainly on the compulsory exam assignments and perform only slightly more than half of the learning assignments, which had not been compulsory until now. According to the Inspectorate, it is more than likely that students, after obtaining their police diploma, have not yet fully mastered all knowledge and skills laid down.

During police training, students each time study and work a quarter of the year in practice with a police force, alternating with a quarter of the year at the Police Academy. The duration of the training varies per level from 1.5 to 4 years. Trainee police officers receive a salary during their training.

Current exam assignment cover the subject matter insufficiently

The Inspectorate has assessed 18 subjects ('core assignments') to check whether the exam assignments ('skills test') actually sufficiently test the knowledge, skills and professional attitude that students have to acquire. The exam assignments were insufficient in eleven cases: they test less than three quarters of the teaching materials and subject matter. Exams that score low are, for example, the exams on action in the event of crimes, action with respect to drugs offences and the performance of complicated traffic controls. Exam assignments pertaining to more public-focused subjects score much better. Compulsory learning assignments as formal components of the exams can fill the gaps, according to the Inspectorate. Surveys performed by the Inspectorate show that many teachers and supervisors at the police forces and at the Police Academy are also of the opinion that students, after an exam assignment, largely or entirely do not possess the required knowledge, skills and professional attitude. The practical supervisors make a more positive assessment that the teachers and supervisors of the Police Academy.

Time spent by the students

During their period with the police forces, students work and study 36 hours a week. During their period at the Police Academy, they have to spend 36 hours on their training as well, in lessons and self-study. Students do not achieve this number of hours: they spend only between 18 and 30 hours on their training. Students have more contact hours with their teachers at the beginning of their training, but this number decreases later on and students are expected to perform more self-study. This structure appears to be only partially successful: the number of lessons by teachers does decrease as training progresses, but the number of hours of self-study increases only slightly. Making learning assignments compulsory will ensure that the number of hours of effective self-study increases. Moreover, the Police Academy will ensure that the number of actually realised contact hours between students and teachers will increase.

Proposals to shorten police training will only be able to go ahead if it is certain that the quality of police education is guaranteed.