29/01/2003

Police training college a step nearer

The PSNI today took the first step towards establishing a site for a new Police Training College.

An advertisement placed seeking tenders for possible sites has invited expressions of interest for the provision of an 80-90 acre site within a 30-mile radius of Belfast.

The report by the Independent Commission on Policing said that current training facilities were "limited", with no specialist facilities available for IT, interview training, a custody suite or courtroom training. The report also described the physical training suite as "inadequate", and further said there was insufficient classroom space and that the residential accommodation was poor.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the move was pleasing as a new purpose-built police college was a key Patten recommendation.

He added: “I want to see the ball rolling on this issue, ultimately we cannot be expected to deliver a world-class policing service to the community in Northern Ireland with training facilities which are at best inadequate and at worst archaic, they compare very unfavourably with other progressive police services.”

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s Working Group on the Police Training College, Independent Board member Barry Gilligan, welcomed the Chief Constable’s move to advertise for a suitable site for the new training college.

"The Board has made the establishment of a new police training college a high priority and an absolute necessity to ensure that we have a 21st Century training facility for a 21st Century police service, so I welcome today’s announcement,” said Mr Gilligan.

The Policing Board, which has a statutory responsibility to consider the training, education and development requirements of police officers and police support staff, established a Police Training College Working Group in December 2002. Last month, the Working Group recommended that the PSNI’s business case for the new Police College be approved at the next Board meeting.

Mr Gilligan said that the Board saw the college as one of the cornerstones of the new police service and were keen to push ahead with the project. However he said that like the Oversight Commissioner, the Board had been concerned about the lack of progress to date, but that the group would be working to ensure that this happens quickly.

The Policing Board will receive a presentation on the training college during the next board meeting on February 6.

(SP)

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