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PC recruits get unique start to policing careers during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW police recruits are experiencing a unique start to their careers as Dyfed-Powys takes measures to follow social distancing rules.

Home learning, attestations made over video link, and secondments to the force control room and custody units are being undertaken for the first time ever at Dyfed-Powys Police to ensure the minimum number of people are based at headquarters.

Swift changes were brought in for three groups of student PCs, all of who are now able to continue with their courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PEQF manager Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle explained: “We currently have three cohorts of new recruits – that’s 62 students – 40 of whom would currently be based at headquarters. This was not an option given the new social distancing legislation.

“We have devised separate plans for each group, allowing them to continue learning while staying safe, and minimising the risk of the virus spreading.

“We are in an unprecedented situation and it was important that we came up with solutions that would work for all our students – and quickly.”

The three groups of students are at different stages in their training – the first should have attended their passing out ceremony in early April, the second group joined in January, and the third are just a few weeks in.

Students would usually spend 28 weeks immersed in learning at the force headquarters in Llangunnor. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among HQ staff, the first group completed their course two weeks ahead of schedule, and have just begun their duties on division.

For the second group, the training will be even more intense, with plans in place to finish seven weeks early.

DS Gravelle said: “We are fitting in as much as we can through distance learning for this group. We have brought in a virtual learning platform so they can work from home.

“While they are studying the initial units, we will take all measures possible to distance the students from each other. They will then start their duties out on division seven weeks early, which is something that has never happened before.”

The recruits who joined at the end of March made Dyfed-Powys Police history by taking their attestations over video link rather than in person. And rather than taking to the classroom, it’s straight into work at the force control room – where all 101 and 999 calls are answered – and custody units across the force.

“This is a completely unique start to their policing careers, and they will be gaining invaluable experience in dealing with the public,” said DS Gravelle.

“Ten of our students will be trained up to answer calls from the public, and five will become custody detention officers. These are the two areas we are currently facing the highest demand, so it made sense to offer resilience to our colleagues while enhancing the students’ learning.

“We have a proposed date for the group to start their classroom learning, which will tie in with university dates to ensure their degree work continues as planned.”

Ensuring recruitment is not put on hold for future officers, interviews for future cohorts have taken place over Skype.

DS Gravelle said: “We are making the most of technology to maintain business as close to usual as possible during this unusual time.

“I’m sure we will look back at this as a time of huge learning, new experiences, and shaping the future of policing.”

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