NIK about training and professional development of services reporting to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration

Training systems implemented in the units reporting to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration enabled the units’ officers to prepare for the discharge of their basic duties. However, the number of specialist training programmes is too small. NIK says there are no coherent training systems in place, especially in the Police and the State Protection Service. The system is inefficient because it cannot fully meet the units’ training demand. There is a shortage of qualified instructors as well as adequate infrastructure and equipment. The units do not cooperate with one another properly. Besides, the training programmes are facultative and raising qualifications is not related to promotions and bonuses. NIK appreciates the commitment of the officers and employees of the audited units in the training system development. At the same time, NIK points to the need of far-reaching changes in individual areas. Their fast and efficient implementation would foster further professionalisation of the units reporting to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, and thus contribute to the improvement of the internal security and the state order. Taking system, long-term measures is particularly important now when the epidemics-related restrictions considerably complicated the process of the officers’ professional development and deepened the existing problems.

Introduction

There are among others four units reporting to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration (MIAA) that are responsible for internal security of the state. These are: the Police, the Border Guard, the State Protection Service and the State Fire Service. The officers acquire essential skills and competencies in the so-called basic professional training  - when they start the service, and as part of specialist training and professional development programmes - in the course of the service.

The present training programmes of the Police, the Border Guard and the State Fire Service were developed at the beginning of the 21st century. Schools and training centres for the units reporting to MIAA provide basic professional training and training programmes enabling officers to get promoted to a higher corps (of non-commissioned officers, warrant officers, officers).

NIK has audited the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, the Police Headquarters, the Border Guard Headquarters,  the State Fire Service Headquarters, State Protection Service (in this case the audit results are secret so they were presented in short), 13 Police Academies, the Border Guard and the State Fire Service as well as 5 field units of the Police, the Border Guard and the State Fire Service at the province level. The audit covered the period from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2019 as well as periods before and after that period, depending on what was critical to meet the audit objective.

Key audit findings

Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration

The Minister developed procedures to supervise the activity of subordinate units, including their training and professional development systems. Designated organisational units of the Ministry analyses reporting document, drew conclusions from them and made recommendations, if necessary. Complaints and requests related to the officers’ training and professional development were properly reviewed. In the audited period the MIAA representatives did not conduct any controls directly relating to the training and professional development system in order to scrutinise it. This area was only part of individual audits as one of many elements of scrutiny. Also, the Minister did not make direct evaluation of the system. His or her analyses were based mainly on reports made by the Commanders-in-Chief of the Police, the State Fire Service, the Border Guard and the Commander of the State Protection Service and ratings of the Polish Accreditation Committee.

A big problem is the absence (especially in the Police and the State Protection Service) of coherent training systems related to the officers’ professional development path, enabling constant improvement of their skills and qualifications. The main reason include staff shortages and poor educational infrastructure.

NIK underlines that since 1995 the Minister has not issued executive provisions of the Construction Law, regarding shooting ranges. As a result of that negligence of over 25-years, the shooting ranges have been exploited without the commonly binding legal provisions, particularly in terms of ensuring security to their users and persons staying nearby.

The Medical Rescue Coordinator of MIAA appointed by the Minister did not properly discharge his or her obligations. It has had negative impact, among other things, on the officers’ training level in qualified first aid. In the Police only a bit more than 5 percent of officers have had training of this type, in the Border Guard - nearly 6 percent, in the State Protection Service - 13 percent. Only in the State Fire Service there has been a high percentage of officers that have been prepared to provide professional first aid.

Police

The Police training system facilitated implementation of most of the planned courses and training programmes but did not fully meet the training demand of the unit. According to MIAA, the existing training programmes meet only 60 percent of the existing demand. There is no coherent, multilevel training system in the Police assuming obligatory deepening of the officers’ knowledge and improvement of their skills at individual stages of professional career. Basic professional training should be the first but not the only obligatory element of the system. Currently specialist courses are not obligatory. As a consequence, police officers are often assigned tasks which go beyond their knowledge and skills. They lack adequate preparation which they could obtain in specialist courses. Similarly, police officers who take managerial posts are not obliged to participate  in an HR management course. The Police see the need for such courses but they cannot organise them due to a limited capacity of schools and the training centre. Thus, the professional development path is no longer linked to higher levels of professional preparation. It should be remembered, though, that training programmes are its vital element.

The Police training system comprises basic professional training and professional training for graduates from universities and colleges.  A condition to obtain essential qualifications to be appointed to a service post is that the officer finishes: basic professional training, professional training for graduates from universities and colleges or the Police Academy in Szczytno. Right after being admitted to service, police officers are referred to basic professional training. Currently this is the only obligatory training conducted by the Police. Graduates from selected faculties (law, administration, internal security) may undergo a complementary training programme.   

Since the admissions limits to the Police in 2018 were eliminated, the number of officers in need of basic professional training  went up considerably. Thus the number of other training programmes, the specialist ones in particular, was limited.  As a consequence, the training "backlogs" grew significantly. For instance:

  • Emergency vehicles driving education with the use of a simulator - over 95 percent of persons requiring such training were not trained;
  • Passenger car driving technique perfection - 91 percent of officers signed up for that training were not trained;
  • First aid - 60 percent of officers signed up for that training were not trained.

Only 31% (37 of 120) of specialist courses for the Police were conducted and so about 80 % of the training demand in various specialties was met. In case of other 83 courses (69%) the training needs were met at a level below 80%.

Specialist training of police officers in selected units. Total headcount in Police: 97166; In road traffic division: 9399; In prevention service: 61179; In criminal service: 33229. Percentage of officers who completed the intervention tactics and techniques course: as of 1 January 2018 - 1.9%; as of 30 June 2019 - 2.1%. Percentage of officers who completed specialist training related to: road traffic - as of 1 January 2018 - 67%; as of 30 June 2019 - 74.2%; district police officers - as of 1 January 2018 - 10.4%; as of 30 June 2019 - 11.2%; investigative proceedings - as of 1 January 2018 - 16.8%; as of 30 June 2019 - 17.3%; domestic violence prevention - as of 1 January 2018 - 2.2%; as of 30 June 2019 - 2.7%; criminal analysis - as of 1 January 2018 - 0.6%; as of 30 June 2019 - 0.6%. Source: NIK’s analysis based on audit materials.

As a rule, police officers participate in the first aid classes as part of the basic professional training. Though, only 5.3 percent of them acquire the right to provide qualified first aid. NIK underlines that this type of training is crucial to protect the health and life of citizens, especially that police officers are usually first at the scene of an incident.

NIK has had serious objections to the shooting training and the condition of shooting ranges. Some of them belong to the Police, some to other entities. The number of shooting ranges is too small which makes professional development difficult in this area. Also the technical condition of some of them was questionable. In the Police training centre in Łódź a number of irregularities posing a threat to human health and life were identified, e.g.:  the mudroom was close to collapse, electrical wiring was live although most rooms were covered with rainwater.

Following the post-audit statements all irregularities indicated by NIK were eliminated.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Police said that - despite the lack or the shortage of shooting ranges, the percentage of police officers participating in the shooting training s was satisfactory (85% in some units). On the other hand, the attendance in obligatory handgun shootings was too low. In the first half of 2019, about 90 percent of police officers took part in the training. The lowest percentage of police officers participating in scheduled handgun shootings was in the Province Headquarters of the Police in Gorzów (78%). The fact that a police officer missed the shooting training was mentioned in his or her employer’s letter of reference.

State Fire Service

All firefighters of the State Fire Service were covered with training programmes which helped them to properly prepare for their work. NIK has noted, though, that the waiting time of the newly hired firefighters to be signed up for basic training was relatively long.

During the audit some irregularities related to smoke chambers were confirmed. In the Noncommissioned Officer Academy of the State Fire Service in Bydgoszcz when the alarm system in the chamber was turned on neither did it make the light turn on automatically nor did it desmoke the chamber. The commander of the Academy told NIK that the irregularities were removed.

In the audited period a performance indicator was adopted in the State Fire Service which said that a newly hired person should not wait longer than 90 days for basic training. The NIK audit findings show that in 2018 these times were longer in individual provinces. The Commander-in-Chief of the State Fire Service explained that in 2018 there was a high demand for the basic training in ”firefighter” profession , related e.g. to the influx of new employees (490), staff fluctuation, retirements, etc. NIK has underlined that that 90 days is a relatively long time. In that period firefighters waiting for basic training could not participate in rescue actions, although most of them served in rescue and fire-fighting units of the State Fire Service. According to NIK such a long waiting time did not help in using the potential of the newly hired firefighters.

All firefighters of the State Fire Service were trained to provide qualified first aid. The Commander-in-Chief appointed the Medical Coordinator and ensured organisation of medical rescue training programmes and exams confirming officers’ skills. Though, there were some delays in developing and approving training plan reports for 2017 and 2018 and training plans for 2018 and 2019. As a result the Medical Rescue Coordinator for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration did not know how many firefighters were trained . And that made it impossible to plan medical rescue training programmes in future.

The data of the State Fire Service showed that over 97 percent of firefighters took fitness tests. In line with the law, all firefighters above 55 years of age (or older if they took part in rescue actions) should have their fitness tested.

NIK has established that the State Fire Service does not ensure standardised training of emergency vehicles drivers, although this should be a central system. Training programmes implemented by different State Fire Service schools varied considerably.

Specialist training of firefighters of the State Fire Service. Headcount of the State Fire Service firefighters: 29775. Percentage of firefighters who completed specialist training/ courses related to: Prevention of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats - as of 1 January 2018 - 0.6%; as of 30 June 2019 - 1.2%;  Chemical and ecological rescue - as of 1 January 2018 - 0.4%; as of 30 June 2019 - 1.3%; Ice rescue- as of 1 January 2018 - 0.8%; as of 30 June 2019 - 5.6%; Natural disasters safety measures- as of 1 January 2018 - 0%; as of 30 June 2019 - 0.1%; Height rescuers - as of 1 January 2018 - 1.1%; as of 30 June 2019 - 1.2%; Height rescue - as of 1 January 2018 - 1.1%; as of 30 June 2019 - 1.2%; Cooperation with Aircraft Rescue Unit for SFS instructors - as of 1 January 2018 - 1.4%; as of 30 June 2019 - 1.4%; Emergency vehicles driving - as of 1 January 2018 - 2.5 %; as of 30 June 2019 -6%; Qualified first aid - as of 1 January 2018 - 96.2%; as of 30 June 2019 - 97.1.Source: NIK’s analysis based on audit materials.

Border Guard

The Border Guard training system enabled the conduct of planned training programmes and central professional development courses. NIK has noted, though, that the training base of the Border Guard field units was insufficient. As a result it was hard to ensure required professional development.

The NIK audit revealed shortages of the training infrastructure  - the number of shooting ranges and sports halls was too small. The Border Guard units had only 10 shooting ranges, including 8 ones in use and 2 out of use due to poor technical condition. As a consequence they had to sign contracts for use or lease contracts to use shooting ranges (as many as 77) owned by other entities.

NIK has drawn attention to a very low percentage of Border Guard officers who underwent the qualified first aid training. The Border Guard Medical Coordinator prepared training reports with delays. As  consequence neither the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard nor the Medical Rescue Coordinator had up-to-date, verified information about how many Border Guard officers were trained in that area.

Specialist training of Border Guard officers. Headcount of Border Guard officers: Total headcount in Border Guard - 14626; In border division - 6300; In foreigners division - 1919;  In maritime border security service - 250. Percentage of officers who completed specialist training/ course in: intervention tactics and techniques - as of 1 January 2018 - 5%; as of 30 June 2019 - 6.3%; Document forgery detection - as of 1 January 2018 - 17.9%; as of 30 June 2019 - 23.1%; Development of language skills - as of 1 January 2018 - 24.6%; as of 30 June 2019 - 35.2%; Motorboat marine coxswain - as of 1 January 2018 - 12.4%; as of 30 June 2019 - 12.4%; Emergency vehicles driving - as of 1 January 2018 - 2.1%; as of 30 June 2019 - 3%; Radiometric control and radiological protection - as of 1 January 2018 - 12.8%; as of 30 June 2019 - 16.8%; Document forgery detection - as of 1 January 2018 - 14.2%; as of 30 June 2019 - 20.1%; Watercraft officers - as of 1 January 2018 - 99.6%%; as of 30 June 2019 - 100%; Qualified first aid - as of 1 January 2018 - 5.2%; as of 30 June 2019 - 7.4%. Source: NIK’s analysis based on audit materials.

State Protection Service

The results of the audit in the State Protection Service were secret so they could not be published in full. The audit findings and the evaluation of tasks performance were presented in a secret post-audit statement of NIK President to the Commander of the State Protection Service of 15 January 2020.

There was no standardised training system for the State Protection Service in place. It was being developed only in the course of NIK audit. The changing concepts and the organisational and personnel chaos did not foster the training quality. The Minister limited his impact on the SPS training to responding on an ongoing basis to the identified deficits in the officers’ training.

After the unit was established in 2018, an organisational framework of the officers’ training was implemented to help them to prepare for the discharge of statutory duties, also the ones related to the development of competencies in relation to the liquidated Government Protection Bureau.

The SPS organisational resources, including the incomplete teaching personnel, the infrastructure (also the lack of SPS’s own facilities suitable for the training in vehicles driving techniques and tactics) and the training equipment condition limited the unit’s training capacity.

In 2018, at the request of the secretary of state in the MIAA the training of SPS emergency vehicles drivers was reporting to analyses and evaluation. Works were conducted by a team of experts made of representatives of the SPS, the Border Guard and the Police. The works resulted in changing the training principles.

NIK appreciates the measures taken to limit the consequences of identified risks. Though, NIK is of the opinion that the SPS training system needs further development to create a coherent, multilevel training system related to the development path of the officers’ professional career.

An essential instrument used by the SPS Commander to supervise the performance of training tasks was the internal control. The monitoring of effectiveness of individual training programmes was limited. NIK has pointed out that the assessment of training programmes based only on the evaluation made by participants right after completing the programme, is not enough to fully assess effectiveness of the training programmes.

Recommendations

The Supreme Audit Office has addressed the following recommendations to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration:

  • coherent, multilevel training systems should be implemented in individual units reporting to the Minister in order to allow officers to prepare for the discharge of duties;  
  • the system of raising professional qualifications should be linked to the system of officers’ promotion and compensation (as part of that officers should be obliged to accomplish selected training programmes to take a given position);
  • solutions should be implemented enabling officers to expand their knowledge and improve skills to make sure they properly discharge their duties in a given position;
  • training systems should be modernised in qualitative terms by implementing the principle that field units and schools of individual units should be provided with modern equipment so that officers could get familiar with the equipment they are going to use while performing their duties;
  • the principle of granting rights to emergency vehicles drivers of all units reporting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Administration should be changed: the rights should be granted only after the drivers have accomplished training programmes organised  by adequately prepared and equipped  training entities;
  • principles and technical conditions should be defined with regard to the use and location of training shooting ranges, as well as the conditions of their location.

 

Article informations

Date of creation:
20 October 2020 00:28
Date of publication:
20 October 2020 00:28
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
21 October 2020 22:28
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
The State Fire Service and the Police at the site of an accident © Headquarters of the State Fire Service

Urgent need for training programmes

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