03 February 2017

Can you help contribute to new national policing guidance?

The College of Policing is piloting a new approach to developing national guidance. The What Works Standards development team outline the key principles, introduce the two chosen topic areas and invite you to contribute to the pilot process.

The College of Policing is piloting a new approach to developing guidance to ensure it is based on the best available research evidence and is clearly understood and easy to apply. Feedback from police officers and staff suggests that changes are necessary to help improve frontline guidance uptake. The new approach will be based on principles used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This will ensure that College guidance is:

  • developed openly and transparently
  • based on the best available evidence
  • developed by independent and unbiased committees of experts
  • 'sense checked' by frontline practitioners (end users) throughout its development
  • robustly quality assured.

 Key changes to the existing process include:

  • a formal stage to agree definitively what is in and out of scope
  • use of systematic review evidence and formal consensus-building techniques to ensure the guidance is developed using the best available evidence
  • use of independent, unbiased committees made up of police and academic subject matter experts and frontline end users to help develop the evidence into practicable recommendations
  • a formal quality assurance stage (including independent peer review).

 How will the new guidance differ from existing authorised professional practice?

It is likely that the look and feel of College guidance will change. Rather than authorised professional practice (APP) published on broad topic areas (such as the whole of domestic abuse), it may consist of more focused guidance on specific aspects of the police role (such as assessing risk to domestic abuse victims). The focus of any new evidence-based guidance is likely to be much narrower than existing APP.

Guidance will be designed with frontline practitioners as the primary audience. The website will be redeveloped to present the new format in the most user-friendly way.

The look and feel of the guidance will be informed by research into user requirements. New national guidance is likely to include numbered recommendations supported by clearly labelled evidence. This evidence will be drawn either from systematic review or expert consensus. 

How you can help

The College is currently piloting this new approach by developing guidance on investigative interviewing and officer safety. As well as research evidence, the College is keen to gather practice examples from the service, so both pilots have launched a call for practice. The College Guideline Committee will consider findings from this call for practice, together with the systematic review evidence, with a view to publishing draft guidance for public consultation later in the year. 

Initial account interviewing

As detailed in the pilot scope, research shows that information provided by victims/witnesses is a key factor in detecting crime and achieving a positive investigative outcome. 

Officers and staff must be able to conduct initial account interviews that successfully elicit accurate and detailed information from victims/witnesses of crime. This establishes a strong foundation for any further investigation or prosecution.

The pilot will identify the evidence base for achieving the most effective initial account interviews.  The findings will be presented as a series of clear, succinct and operationally practicable recommendations.

DCI Dave Kirby, Staff Officer to CC Mick Creedon (NPCC Lead on Investigative Interviewing) is chairing the pilot Guideline Committee. DCI Kirby says:

"I want to ensure that the pilot develops recommendations which will support officers with conducting good quality initial account interviews with victims and witnesses and introduce consistency of practice across the police service.  The resulting guidance will also act as a standard against which the training, performance and supervision of officers/staff can be measured and improved."

At present we are systematically reviewing relevant academic research to find evidence-based answers for these questions:

  • What works in eliciting quality information from victims and witnesses in pressurised or dynamic environments? 
  • What factors affect the quality of information provided by victims and witnesses?

The answers will be analysed to show what works when conducting and recording victim/witness initial account interviews.  In the next few months, we will present the resulting evidence statements alongside your call for practice responses to the Guideline Committee.

We may contact people who respond to this call for practice to follow up on the information they have sent, or about being involved in consensus-building activities later in this pilot. 

You can download the initial account interviewing call for practice here.

Safer resolution

Protecting officers from physical harm is the focus of this work. In responding to conflict situations, police officers not only put themselves in potential danger but their actions can have serious consequences for public safety, trust and confidence in the police.

Although conflict management and use of force techniques are included as part of police personal safety training, the exact content of this is determined locally by forces.
The overarching question the guidance will address is 'what makes it more or less likely that an officer/staff member will resolve a potential conflict situation without relying on force?' The guidance will:

  • seek to ensure that advice on techniques and tactics for managing conflict is drawn from the best available evidence of what works
  • cover managing violence and aggression during routine incidents and planned community operations.

The College Safer Resolution Pilot team has carried out a systematic evidence search of academic research. The results of this search have been sifted and we have begun to collate and synthesise the evidence. The team has also launched a public-facing web page that includes all project updates and documentation.

We have just launched a call for practice seeking current/developing practice relating to de-escalation and managing conflict without force.

ACC David Hardcastle, National Lead for Response Policing and Chair of the pilot Guideline Committee, says:

"I believe that this is a valuable piece of work that will support operational decision making and improve officer safety by minimising the need to use force in a conflict situation. Developing these recommendations will help minimise violence and aggression during routine incidents and planned operations in the community."

You can download the safer resolution call for practice here.


If you would like to discuss these projects in more detail, please use the following contact:

Safer resolution project:  carolina.villaneda@college.pnn.police.uk

Initial account interviewing project: camille.giffard@college.pnn.police.uk