First 40 begin the new police officer degree training
Forty student police officers begin their training this week, the first in Wiltshire to start the new police constable training programme - a three-year apprenticeship degree in policing and 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, which will be run from police headquarters in Devizes.
The students came to police headquarters on their first day for a briefing, to pick up their kit and a welcome to Wiltshire by Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills and Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson. Due to Covid-19, the first part of their 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 from the programme 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 is enabling us to 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.
Students on the new training programme are made up of 25 taking the degree apprenticeship and 15 degree holders taking the diploma course - all are warranted full time police officers from day one. For the initial 23 weeks training, the students 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, but the force welcomes expressions of interest on its careers pages Talent Bank. 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 on the role of a police officer, the new entry routes and eligibility requirements 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 and potential recruits can sign up to receive a regular police recruitment newsletter.