EXCLUSIVE: The NT police college continued to employ unqualified instructors and failed to address the “significant risks” of putting cops on the beat before their competency was assessed, two years after a damning audit exposed serious non-compliance issues, the NT Independent can reveal.
An October 2019 internal executive committee memo, obtained by the NT Independent, showed minimal work had been undertaken to address the serious failings raised in the late 2017 external audit, that had found the college employed unqualified instructors, failed to keep proper records of cadet training and could not determine who its managers were or if they were “fit and proper” people.
The audit also found recruits were graduated despite failing basic literacy and numeracy tests and that the college could not explain why it had passed some cadets.
According to the memo, dated October 17, 2019, the unnamed college executive committee was concerned about the “significant risks” posed to the NT Police force by continuing to put potentially unqualified police officers in the field.
It stated that a review of the Diploma of Policing had been ongoing for seven months at the time and involved “redesigning” the assessments so that the “determination of competency is made whilst learners are attending the PFES college”.
“Previously 90 per cent of assessment occurred during the probation period once learners had left the college,” it stated.
“This was identified as a significant risk to the [college] and the agency and is being addressed.”
Numerous sources familiar with the college told the NT Independent the issue has still not been addressed and police cadets continue to be graduated without the proper competency assessments being completed, due to only one current officer with the qualifications to assess them.
The committee memo also shows the college continued to employ uncertified instructors and had not yet developed a process for verifying if they were qualified.
“The standards … stipulate that trainers must hold the unit of competency that they are training and assessing,” the document stated.
“Currently there are no trainers holding the current diploma units and an RPL (recognition of prior learning) process is required to be developed.
“This action has been delayed due to LDO (leadership development officer) vacancies.”
Police Minister Nicole Manison refused again yesterday to answer questions about the police college’s failings. The Gunner Government has hyped the hiring of new police officers as part of its crime reduction strategy, but have not responded to questions over what they are doing to ensure the officers are properly trained.
The 2017 audit conducted by Training Risk Solutions confirmed the college had graduated recruits without proper certification and that training was not being properly assessed, with “no clear evaluation plan”.
It also found a firearms instructor who had taught recruits did not have the proper qualifications to train.
The 2019 executive committee memo shows the college was concerned about the ongoing risks and another possible audit.
“The [college] can be audited retrospectively which is a risk that cannot be treated,” it stated.
“However ongoing continuous improvements will minimise the risk over time.”
College hired unqualified instructors, sought to hire more to train recruits while they were undergoing training themselves
The memo further showed the college executive committee had only attempted a “change of approach” a year after the external audit was conducted by seeking to improve accountability, which has still not been attained.
“Since November 2018 the focus of the [college] has moved to improving governance and accountability,” the document states.
“This change of approach has resulted in movements in staffing with one (leadership development officer) resigning and another … on extended personal leave.
“Having an appropriately skilled LDO with VET expertise will greatly assist in improving compliance and governance.”
The executive committee also discussed hiring “new trainers” without the proper certifications and “allowing them to train [recruits] under supervision” while they themselves underwent training.
But that again was dependent on hiring proper leadership development officers who could provide the “supervision” of the less-qualified staff – something the college has been unable to accomplish.
The committee had also pledged to conduct systematic reviews of training and assessments, but did not provide specifics of how this would be done.
The executive committee also highlighted ongoing failures with its accredited programs including a lack of information on competency codes and failing to properly record the “duration of training sessions”.
“These gaps are being addressed,” the memo states, adding again that “due to limited LDO resourcing” the improvements could not be rolled out across all accredited courses until “the staffing situation improves”.
Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker also refused to comment on the college’s non-compliance issues and what he was doing to ensure recruits were properly qualified before assuming the job.