West Yorkshire Police has become one of the first forces in the country to tap into e-learning as it delivers an innovative approach to child protection training.
The force is working with the Safeguarding Children e-Academy, based in Ilkley, West Yorks, the UK's leading provider of online training in this specialist field, to enhance the learning process for all officers and support staff who come into contact with children.
The impact of the partnership is already being seen, with members of the force having signed up for the Safeguarding Children e-Academy's Child Abuse & Neglect online courses.
DCI Joanna Burton explained: “Child abuse investigators within West Yorkshire Police Force already receive extensive training, including a four-week residential course to cover all aspects of child protection.
"However, general frontline officers and staff still have a requirement for such training, which generally occurs within their induction period. Divisions find it difficult to release people from their duties to attend basic awareness courses, so e-learning offers them a viable and workable alternative."
The force’s Louise Embleton, administrative officer with the Child & Public Protection Headquarters Department, is responsible for raising awareness of the new online courses.
Louise said: "The Child Abuse and Neglect foundation and core courses have gone down extremely well within the force, with some extremely positive feedback received. Trainees have told us that they are interesting, enjoyable, clear and easy to understand - and that they would definitely adopt this online method of learning again".
"This clearly proves that e-learning is an easier alternative for officers and staff to obtain training, enabling them to complete the courses at their own pace."
Launched a little over 12 months ago, the Safeguarding Children e-Academy has quickly established a national footprint, with almost 40 Safeguarding Children's Boards across the country having taken up membership, including every local authority-run board in West Yorkshire.
e-Academy manager Abby Dacres commented: "Vast numbers of people require appropriate training in areas of child protection, but many struggle to engage in traditional classroom-based delivery.
"Our key aim is to provide online solutions to help enhance the traditional approach to education and training. Courses currently available cover a variety of child protection issues and are suitable for anyone who works with children.
"The fact that all regional Safeguarding Children Boards are now members allowed us to target West Yorkshire Police and offer the same flexible training across all their divisions.
"We feel the work we are undertaking with them is unique and represents a role model worthy of adoption by other police forces and large support organisations across the UK."
She added: "Another keynote aim of the e-Academy is bring together members who share similar child protection issues, creating powerful and focused teams that can collaborate and develop effective e-learning solutions, which can then be shared with other members. This is highly cost-effective and has already resulted in significant public sector savings."
The Safeguarding Children e-Academy - http://www.safeguardingchildrenea.co.uk/ - is operated, managed and supported by the VirtualCollege, also based in Ilkley, one of the UK's leading developers of e-learning solutions across sectors including the police, fire services and the NHS.
The e-Academy is now developing other learning modules, including Awareness of Domestic Abuse and Runaways Protocol, Child Protection in Sport, and Common Assessment Framework and Information Sharing training.