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Claims Goulburn police academy recruits unprepared to use firearms

Teachers at the Police Academy say recruits are being left dangerously unprepared for crime-fighting duties. Photo: Alex EllinghausenLives are being put at risk on NSW streets because of a dumbing-down of teaching programs at the state’s Police Academy, according to insiders at the training college.
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And the tertiary education union alleges a culture of bullying, abuse and cronyism at the Goulburn Academy’s School of Policing Studies is further damaging the training of the next generation of NSW cops.

Teachers at the Police Academy say recruits are being left dangerously unprepared for crime-fighting duties after a new curriculum was hastily introduced early this year in a process said to have been driven more by police politics than operational needs.

But NSW Police Force commanders denied on Thursday that there were any problems at the Academy and said any issues with the teaching program at Goulburn had been resolved months ago.

With about 350 rookie cops set to graduate from Goulburn in less than three weeks, police and civilian instructors at the Academy say it has covered up failings in the teaching program, risking lives by putting improperly trained junior officers on the streets.

One firearms trainer has told how a class, toward the end of their training course, showed up for “Tactical Options Scenario” weapons instruction without any knowledge of the legal requirements for using guns or tasers.

There is also trouble among staff working for Charles Sturt University, which delivers the academic modules of the police training course at Goulburn, with the National Tertiary Education Union alleging a culture of bullying and cronyism.

The university denies the union’s claims.

Fairfax understands that senior NSW Police commanders have been briefed about the problems at the Academy but after several months, no action has been taken.

“The curriculum will produce probationary constables unable to perform police work safely and legally (and) it’s creating a risk to the safety of people in NSW,” according to briefing notes prepared by one academy staffer.

A report sent to the leadership of the NSW Police Association by its branch at the Academy and obtained by Fairfax was also blunt in its assessment of the new curriculum which was introduced in January.

“The training of police recruits in NSW is moving backwards,” the report states.

“As the students join the frontline, it is expected this negative impact will have an obvious effect on frontline police, the NSWPF as an organisation and the wider community.”

Officers teaching at the Academy also accuse it of being engaged “in a damage control exercise which seeks to cover up these major problems and hail this curriculum as an outstanding success.”

Fairfax has been told that Education and Training Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy was briefed several months ago on the Academy’s staff concerns.

But in response to a series of questions, Commander Corboy said on Thursday that any problems with the teaching program at Goulburn had been resolved months ago.

“The NSW Police Force resolved the issues surrounding our nationally recognised curriculum several months ago and we have regular reviews involving the Police Association,” the senior officer said in a statement.

A spokesman for Charles Sturt University said the NTEU’s report of bullying and harassment among university workers at Goulburn was flawed and that an internal review by the uni had found the school was a safe working environment.

“An internal review found no evidence to support a finding that bullying or harassment is prevalent in the work environment at the Charles Sturt University School of Policing Studies in Goulburn,” the spokesman said.

“An independent review of workplace health and safety, and workplace culture, within the School of Policing Studies is currently underway, and CSU is confident this will confirm the findings of the internal review.”

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