Forty-eight new recruits have started as University of Cumbria students as part of an innovative Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) programme.
The student police officers and subsequent cohorts are receiving face-to-face masterclasses, practical skills training and supported online learning.
They are being delivered by a team of higher education and police trainers headed by University of Cumbria senior lecturer in police apprenticeships Stephen Wright.
University of Cumbria’s first student police officers, who started on Monday 9 March, are based with Surrey Police and they are part of a wider scheme that will educate more than 1,000 new recruits over the next three years.
Four universities with top tier police education expertise – Middlesex University, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Cumbria – have joined together as the Police Education Consortium. The consortium has a contract to deliver the PCDA with three forces – Surrey and Sussex Police Forces and Hampshire Constabulary. The universities will alternate as the providers for each new cohort.
University of Cumbria senior lecturer in police apprenticeships Stephen Wright, himself a retired police officer, said: “This is a new era for police education and training. This approach to developing officers being undertaken by the Police Education Consortium and force partners is innovative.
“Police trainers, coaches, supervisors and managers from our three partner forces – Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire - are working alongside university colleagues throughout the three-year programme and at all stages. Students will receive a learning experience which combines theory with the practice of being a serving front-line officer, elements interwoven in their higher level programme of education.
“It is a privilege to be a part of this pioneering collaboration and utilising the skills and great expertise of those in our policing and professional teams at the University of Cumbria to help shape the future of policing in England and Wales.”
Gary Slater, Principal Lecturer in Policing and Criminology within the university’s Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership, is a retired Cumbria Constabulary superintendent having served with the force for 30 years.
Gary said: “Being a part of the Police Education Consortium demonstrates the expertise and ability that the University of Cumbria has to deliver on innovative projects not only in policing, but also the fields of health, education, project management and the visitor economy.
“Working in this way also illustrates how we can provide flexible and bespoke support to employers and showcases the opportunities higher education delivered by and for Cumbria and North Lancashire provides students and others alike.
“We are delighted to be involved in this consortium. These innovative programmes sit well alongside our own undergraduate pre-join Professional Policing degree that is licenced by the College of Policing and which we run at our campuses in Carlisle, Lancaster and London.”
The PCDA takes three years and is a new entrance route to the police for non-graduates. As with traditional police entry routes, recruits will spend an initial period in the classroom lasting around nine weeks, before beginning police duties accompanied by experienced officers who will coach them through their development. After around 30 weeks, they will obtain Independent Patrol Status allowing them to go on duty alone.
Degree level study is pivotal to modernising the police force. Policing has become more complex and requires an array of practical and academic skills, meaning police officers deserve an education appropriate for 21st Century working. The investment in education made around introducing degree-level entry to the police will bring policing in line with other professions like nursing, teaching and the military.
The PCDA also addresses the fact that to date, highly-skilled officers and police staff have completed training and carried out research without externally-recognised qualifications. Degree apprenticeships are an attractive option, allowing recruits to earn and receive a qualification, while learning how to become a police officer.
Recruits allocated to each university are full students of that university, with access to their programmes of learning and support, but are taught in a police training centre, not on campus. The PCDA is one of two entry routes to the police that the Police Education Consortium will offer. It will also deliver the Police Officer – Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) with the three forces from 2020, for candidates who are graduates.