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First day as a police officer - without leaving home

Category: Flexible Working, Flexible, Working from Home, Police, West Midlands Police, Law Enforcement, assistive technology, flexiblity, home working, remote working

Flexible Working.

Twenty four new student police officers have begun their careers with West Midlands Police but their first day was a very different experience to those who’ve gone before.

The officers didn’t get to arrive at our Tally Ho training base and pull on their uniforms for the first time, in fact they didn’t even leave their homes.

The group, made up of 18 men and six women, all got up on Thursday (30 April) and logged on for day one of training, which is all happening online due to the restrictions in place in response to Covid 19.

As they dialled in and introduced themselves to their new colleagues and tutors, they had a surprise appearance from Chief Constable Dave Thompson. It is the first time a Chief Constable has taken part in the online training being delivered to student officers across the wider West Midlands region, in partnership with Staffordshire University.

The Chief took time to dial into their first session to welcome the students and acknowledge the strange times we all find ourselves in.

“When you all thought about joining I’m sure you didn’t think your first day would be like this," Mr Thompson said to the students.

“This is an unusual situation we are all in, where we are having to welcome and meet each other virtually. I know a lot of your learning under the new student officer programme will be done this way and it’s great that we are able to continue, using this technology.

“It is a really strange start for you all, because in policing teamwork and camaraderie are both very important. So, I am sorry that you won’t have this in a traditional sense at the start of your careers, but this won’t be forever and you will get back to a more traditional policing experience before long."

The Chief went on to answer questions from students, which ranged from his first arrest (a pair of elderly, drunk shoplifters in Manchester!) to what advice he would offer himself if he was starting his career again.

The recruits’ average age is 24 and all dialled in from the West Midlands and surrounding areas. Amongst the group are people who have worked in teaching, retail, the armed forces, security as well as one former West Midlands Police PCSO.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Being a police officer is an incredibly rewarding and challenging career even when we are not facing a global pandemic and none of the student officers could have predicted that their careers with West Midlands Police would have begun like this.

“Our new officers will play a key role in making the West Midlands a safer place for us all.

“These are extremely challenging times however, I know that they will step up to ensure that we are all kept safe and I wish them all the best of luck as they begin their new careers.

“I have been blown away by the quality of our recruits, who have come to West Midlands Police from a variety of backgrounds."

The group have joined our new student officer programme, in partnership with Staffordshire University, and they will train for three years on the PC degree apprenticeship, graduating with a Bsc in Professional Policing Practice.

Since the programme opened for recruitment, a year ago, 7,500 people have applied to join West Midlands Police, with recent weeks seeing a huge increase in applications. March saw record breaking numbers apply, with 240 people submitting their forms in just one week, while last week we saw half of all applications coming from women - a huge milestone as we have been seeking to attract more female recruits.

The overall number of people expected to join our ranks in 2020/21 stands at 1,026 officers - compared with just 188 new recruits, three years ago.

Despite the success in attracting applicants, WMP has been hit by recent changes and restrictions as part of the response to Covid 19. March saw the cancellation of an assessment centre which resulted in 182 candidates unable to move on through the process that could lead to them being offered a place on our student officer programme.

Nicola Price, Director of People for West Midlands Police, said: “Despite all the restrictions brought by Covid 19 we are still very much open for recruitment and are seeing thousands of people visiting our careers website every week.

“At the moment we are receiving around 160 applications a week to join our student officer programme.

“We are about to pilot a national online assessment centre, which will hopefully allow us to get our applicants moving through the process again while all our usual face to face interactions are paused.

“We are heartened that so many people consider us as a career option and are doing everything possible to see them realise a police career here in the West Midlands."

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