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Airwave releases the results from a report that calculates the potential savings that its Academy e-learning package could generate.
Airwave Academy was rolled out to the Devon & Cornwall Police between October 2010 and September 2011 to enable officers to further their skills base when using the Airwave Service.
“We commissioned the report in order to get an independent review of whether the planned benefits of Academy during the rollout have been realised. Academy allows officers to complete the training whilst on shift, which means that they can complete the modules at their own pace,” says John Lewis, a director at Airwave.
During the period under review, 2,596 officers logged onto the system and spent close on 4,000 hours completing the eight training modules. The report defined the potential cost avoidance savings for two years would have been £262,786. The results further demonstrated that similar e-learning modules could potentially cost the force only £8 per officer per year.
According to Tim Bishop, Airwave development and services manager at Devon & Cornwall Police: “When an officer joins the force their initial training on the use of the Airwave Service is conducted face-to-face which, according to user surveys, is still the best way to introduce the Service. However, considering that we have been using the Airwave Network for seven years, it could mean that some of our officers have had no follow up training since 2005.”
Tim went on to say that “we have a responsibility to continue training our officers, which is why in 2009 we looked at the benefits of using an e-learning package”.
For a force the size of Devon and Cornwall Police, which covers the largest geographical police area in England, extending 180 miles from the Dorset and Somerset borders in the east to the Isles of Scilly in the west, a flexible solution was needed that would take into account the location of officers spread across the entire county.
“The report highlighted for us the fact that Academy has huge deliverable and administration savings, officers need not take time out from their shiftwork and there are no costs associated with travelling in order to complete the training. Officers have commented positively about the content covered, the way it is delivered and the benefits they have enjoyed,” says Tim.
John added that Academy “is clearly extremely good value for critical safety and mobilisation training that can be accessed at any point, whilst on or off shift and in a way that suits the individual”.
The eight training modules focus on seven core areas: direct mode, transmit inhibit, changing talk groups, status messages, defective handsets, emergency button, gateway functionality and engineering screens.
Each module was followed by a knowledge reassessment, and the report was able to demonstrate that there was a 20 per cent knowledge improvement after an average of 40 minutes training.
“During this period, we also recorded a 13 per cent rise in the use of status messaging, which can, in part, be attributed to the status messaging module. We have also seen a 62 per cent increase in the use of the emergency button, which has been significantly influenced by the knowledge increase indicated in the report,” says Tim.
The importance of ongoing training was further highlighted during the 2011 summer riots, when officers were brought into the affected areas and were required to change talk groups, understand the different aspects of interoperability and use universally-accepted Airwave speak during communications.
“We know that the ability for officers to operate the handsets effectively increases their confidence and improves their performance. This enables them to meet their policing commitments to the public and improve the service Devon & Cornwall provides.”