Cross-Border Police Training – Thanks to the IPA!

12 Mar 2021

It has been at least a year now with most of the world impacted in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic. National lockdowns, travel restrictions, sickness and, sadly, fatalities. The impact of the pandemic on the International Police Association, Police services/agencies and our family life has been huge.

In the summer of 2020 my friend and colleague from Bonn, Germany, got in touch with me here in the UK with an idea on how to use the wonderful links and networks of the IPA to benefit his work and ultimately his students. Andreas Piastowski is the Police Director with the Bonn Police Authority and regularly teaches new German police officers as they begin their career in policing.


Andreas sums up his idea far better than I can;

In a globalised world, police officers not only have to know the law and their arresting techniques. They also have to be able to communicate in the world’s common language: English. It’s the modern lingua franca for police officers used from encounters with tourists asking their way, or fining traffic violations; to mutual legal assistance, international police co-operation and police-missions abroad. That’s why police cadets in North Rhine-Westfalia are also taught English for police offers. Like any other profession, the police uses special terms and phrases on the job, which are not taught during standard school lessons.

The English lessons cover police organisation, equipment, gear, education and training as well as common scenarios like missing persons, reporting a crime, having an accident or simply asking the way. It worked well at the academies until COVID kicked in last year. Police academies became virtual and Zoom-meeting lessons routine. Those virtual classes required new ways of teaching. So, why not use the opportunity to invite colleagues from other countries into these English classes to talk about their daily work, their equipment, their organisation and their experiences?

The International Police Association was eager to help, and soon colleagues from the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden and Iceland took part in the English lessons, talking about police. Our cadets were eager to learn about similarities and differences and really had a bunch of questions. Do English officers still not carry handguns? Is the distance between Icelandic police stations really 400 kilometers? Why are applicants for the Canadian RCMP tested with a polygraph? Time passes easily while the cadets never run out of questions, learning English on their way.

The cadets’ evaluation of these lessons were unanimous: ‘Please, let us repeat that every lesson‘ as well as ‘it was the most interesting lesson by far‘. Some of them also asked for internships. However, COVID will pass and the lessons will be held in the classroom again. But one lesson still will be a Zoom meeting with real officers from all over the world to discuss police matters. They don’t want to miss it!”

I spent 30-40 minutes on a zoom call with Andreas and his student officers explaining the role of my police force, the wider structure of policing in the United Kingdom and gave a brief overview of the differences in legal systems powers. The cadets asked me many questions and it was impressive how good their English was, alongside their knowledge of policing generally.

The call continued and the cadets were given a virtual tour of the police station, uniform, equipment and police vehicles. Further questions followed and some interesting debates were held. As usual, the main difference between us was the smaller number of armed police officers in the United Kingdom on a routine basis.

Discussions around routine arming of UK police officers centred on the terror threat, the frequency of attacks and the ever growing epidemic of knife enabled crime and violence, particularly in London.

I hope to arrange opportunities for UK policing students to take part in a similar Zoom call with colleagues across the world, as I have now seen the benefit to their enthusiasm and knowledge base.

My thanks to Andreas for such a wonderful concept and of course to colleagues in the other sections that took part in this idea to support Andreas and his students.

The IPA, as ever, provides some wonderfully unique opportunities for its members and future members!

Servo per Amikeco, stay safe & well.

Martin Turner, Vice President (Professional), IPA UK