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First new Degree Apprenticeship PCs due to start patrols this summer

Apprentice officer search training
An apprentice officer trains in search techniques

The first recruits training under the new Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) will start patrolling across our policing area with their tutor constables.

Ahead of this milestone Chief Constable Andy Marsh, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) Vice-Chancellor Steve West observed their practical search assessments.

The 30 apprentice officers were training in searching people, buildings and vehicles in the exercise at the University’s Glenside campus. In August they’ll put the skills learnt in their initial 12-week training programme to the test. They’ll join teams keeping people safe across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Somerset.

Sue Mountstevens said: “I’m delighted that Avon and Somerset Constabulary and UWE Bristol are working together to offer a rewarding learning experience to our new recruits. This is a great opportunity for individuals to pursue a varied and interesting role as part of our force while gaining a qualification at the same time. Local people deserve the best officers on our streets to keep us safe and the new apprenticeship prepares, trains and supports officers to deal with the complex crimes they will face as part of their role.”

Andy Marsh said: “The PCDA’s training and qualification formally recognises the complexity and professionalism within which our Constables work and is a positive development and improvement of police training. This is not three years in a classroom learning theory – UWE Bristol has created a rewarding learning experience that equips our new recruits with the skills they need for boots on the ground, on-the-job, training. Our intention is that this new training and qualification opens up a career in policing with a higher education qualification to an inclusive range of people who might not either have considered a career in policing or undertaken this level of higher education. Policing is still fundamentally delivered by people and this attracts and trains the very best, which is what our communities deserve.”

Steve West said: “It’s great to see the apprentice officers working on tasks that will prepare them for real world situations and lead them into a career where they could make a real difference to society. This programme highlights our devotion to working in partnership to deliver practice-based courses that provide individuals with the right skills and ensure they are ready for the workplace.”

How does the degree apprenticeship work?

We’ve worked in partnership with UWE Bristol on the three-year PCDA, accredited by the College of Policing. We’re the first force in the South West to move our initial police learning to a degree-based apprenticeship.

Apprentice officers spend three quarters of their time learning on the job and the rest studying, or in the classroom. Lectures and workshops are taught both at the police headquarters in Portishead and at UWE Bristol. The apprentice officers learn about leadership, communications and legislation, as well as cyber security. They also work on bespoke skills central to policing, such as how to handcuff someone safely.

Today’s training is a key feature of the programme, supporting the apprentice officers’ learning as they move on to the next phase of the course – one-to-one tutorship alongside a trained police officer.

The College of Policing developed PCDAs as part of the Professional Development Framework in 2015. PCDA apprentice officers are employed by Avon and Somerset Constabulary before starting the degree and are paid from £20k per year.