Passing out parade for Devon and Cornwall recruits thrust into frontline of Covid-19 crisis
A passing out parade has taken place for a group of new Devon & Cornwall Police officers who were fast-tracked into the force’s Covid-19 emergency response just a week into their training.
The 23 new graduate recruits began their post-graduate course on 16 March just days before the country went into national lockdown and almost immediately found themselves deployed in the force control room to help deal with 999 calls.
The cohort came into the force via the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP), a route which was designed to recruit officers from a wide range of backgrounds.
With the classroom phase of their induction now complete they passed out in a ceremony at police headquarters in Exeter on Tuesday October 20 before being sent out to work as officers across Devon and Cornwall.
Assistant chief Constable Jim Nye, who is to oversee the ceremony, said: “We are really pleased to see these new students complete their initial training after what was a challenging period.
“Their initiation into hands-on working came a little sooner than usual because of the pandemic and they spent some time in the control room during what was a learning experience for everyone.
“I would like to welcome them into the Devon and Cornwall police family and wish them well when they start their first work assignments.”
Covid-19 restrictions have made it impossible to gather student officers and their families for the important ceremonies which mark major milestones for new officers.
Devon & Cornwall Police has also moved 12 weeks of the 20-week classroom training programme for new officers online.
The force took just five days to develop an online training package with partners to allow the force to maintain current training schedules – helping the Devon & Cornwall to respond to the national uplift in police officer numbers.
Training was not halted by the pandemic and the number of recruits will have doubled by the end of the financial year compared to last year.
The usual six courses a year has been increased to 12 and the usual number of 132 will be doubled to around 264.
The latest intake comes from a wide range of backgrounds, including two officers of Polish background, and was split evenly between men and women and aged between 21 and 37.
After a week’s break, they will join the four basic command units which make up the force area.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, spoke at the ceremony.
“We did not stop recruiting because of the pandemic and these officers found themselves thrust straight into one of the biggest emergencies in living memory,” she said.
“They had to adapt as the force responded to that crisis, heading straight to the front line to add resilience to our contact centre. That ability to change will stand them in good stead throughout what promise to be varied and interesting careers.
“When I became PCC in 2016 Devon and Cornwall had a budget for 2,924 sworn police officers. Today that figure stands at 3,241 thanks to the contribution made by taxpayers who told me they wanted more police men and women on the beat. It is because of their investment we have today a cohort of officers of all ages, sexes and backgrounds who are ready to do their part to build safer, connected and resilient communities.”
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