Forty student police officers who start their training this week are the first in Wiltshire to take the new police constable training programme - a three-year apprenticeship degree in policing or a two-year diploma for those who already hold a degree.
The new national entry routes for police constables have been set by the College of Policing to standardise professional qualification levels for police officers. Wiltshire Police is teaming up with the University of South Wales to deliver police training, to be run from police headquarters in Devizes.
The students came to police headquarters on their first day (Monday 29 June) for a briefing, to pick up their IT kit and a welcome to Wiltshire from Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills and Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson. Due to Covid-19, the first few weeks of police constable training will be online and the course curriculum has been adapted for this purpose.
“Our course trainers have done a fantastic job getting the new training programme up and running online, working alongside our partners at the University of South Wales,” said Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills.
“I am proud to welcome the first students to Wiltshire taking the new apprenticeship degree or the graduate diploma and wish them well with their policing careers. The introduction of the programme heralds an important landmark in the continued development of policing in the country, with all new recruits now graduating with a degree level qualification in policing.
“We are on track for a significant uplift in police officer numbers over the next few years, with a further 120 students expected to start over the next 12 months.
“Increases in the Council Tax policing precept and additional Government funding means we can recruit, train and deploy even more officers to tackle crime and the issues that are really important to our communities,” he added.
PCC Angus Macpherson, who began his working life as an apprentice with Hoover, sees the introduction of police degree apprenticeships as a real benefit to the force
“When we talk about apprenticeships, I'm a firm supporter. The training programme is ambitious and will benefit our officers, the force as a whole and the communities they serve. It also serves to show that policing is a demanding job, requiring professional skills and knowledge,” Mr Macpherson said.
Twenty five of the new students are taking the degree apprenticeship and the 15 who are already degree holders will take the diploma course - all are warranted full time police officers from day one. During the initial 23 weeks training, they will study together in mixed groups, prior to joining community policing teams under tutorship to continue their academic studies, with protected learning time alongside being full time police officers.
Police officer recruitment is unlikely to open again until early 2021 in Wiltshire, but expressions of interest are welcome on the Force's Talent Bank online. Candidates need two GCSEs and one A Level or equivalent to apply - you do not need a degree to apply to become a police officer. Applicants must be 17 years or old at the time of application and 18 when they start training and there is no maximum age limit. For more information go to www.wiltshire.police.uk/Officers
A national website https://www.joiningthepolice.co.uk/ has a wealth of information and direct links to police forces currently recruiting. Potential recruits can also sign up to receive a regular police recruitment newsletter.
STUDENT PROFILES .... focus on three of the 40 first students enrolled in the new training programme
Twenty year old Ollie is the first to progress from cadet to PCSO and now Police Officer all with Wiltshire Police. At the age of 14, he joined our very first Swindon cadet cohort after attending a careers evening at school and has always been interested in a career in the police. Ollie says it’s a great time to join the regulars after being a Swindon PCSO for the last 18 months, and is looking forward to starting the new apprenticeship, the structured approach it offers and having a clear career path mapped out for him.
Trowbridge based 20 year-old Philip is starting on the policing apprenticeship after 18 months working in the Devizes Crime & Communications Centre handling 999 and 101 calls. He applied straight from the Clarendon Academy in Trowbridge after taking A Levels and welcomed the support he got from the Force’s Positive Action team who supported his application. Philip is looking forward to working through the training modules and sees a police officer career as a brilliant opportunity to make a difference and particularly to help vulnerable members of our communities.
Jennie is new to Wiltshire, with a 12-year army career behind her in the Royal Engineers and since she returned from Germany to the UK, experience of working with the NHS in her local hospital antenatal unit in Frimley, Surrey. As a former soldier and mum of two, Jennie is excited at having the opportunity - at the age of 37 - to embark on a new career in policing. Becoming a police officer really appealed to her, “I want to make a positive impact on the community and also, it will be nice to prove to the kids I can do this!”