In a week when Government announced its national Police Uplift results, we are celebrating that we have not only met but exceeded our target and grown our establishment by 558 police officers. Since July 2019 our workforce has grown from 2,835 operational officers to 3,393.
Many of the additional officers have already completed their training, with the first cohort graduating last summer. These officers are now responding to crime, including, safeguarding children, investigating rape and burglary.
We’ve successfully recruited officers from different backgrounds through a variety of different entry routes ranging from; Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) and Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) to transferees from other forces.
Meet some of our Uplift Officers
One of these officers is Leia Houtekamer, who is currently training to become a Detective Constable on the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP).
Leia previously worked as a project manager for a commercial printing company but made the decision to pursue a career in policing after she was put on furlough in 2020. But becoming a detective has always been a dream of hers from a young age.
“My most memorable moment was when I was working on response at Christmas. A call had come in that two young children had been left home alone, shut in a cupboard. We took them away and brought them back to the station, where we entertained them until social workers arrived. I was sat with them in the station in front of the Christmas tree and it was nice to know that the kids were safe.
“It’s nice to hear from a victim that you’ve really helped them in their life because that’s what you want to do. I don’t think there is any other job where you can make such a difference in the community. It’s a privilege to be able to do this job.”
Apprenticeships are often associated with young people, fresh out of school or college but that’s not always the case.
PC Lee Jones, 38, joined the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) with Avon and Somerset Police in 2020, having previously worked as a social worker.
Lee works a shift pattern including earlies, lates, nights and weekend shifts as part of a team and receives support and guidance from a professional mentor – responding to a range of emergency incidents, including road traffic collisions, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour.
Last week, Lee completed the three-year PCDA course and is now part of the Response team in Yeovil.
“I joined the police as I’ve always wanted to make a difference and I’ve always felt the need to put others first and help people. It’s the best job in the world.
“I was initially hesitant when I first applied, as I was never very academic at school. However, it was the best choice I made, there was so much support available.
Louise Hutchison, Acting Chief Officer People and Organisational Development, said: “Since 2019 we’ve been working hard to increase our police officer numbers, knowing how much benefit this could bring to our policing teams and the public we serve.
“Through the Uplift programme we were set a target of recruiting 456 officers and as of 31 March we have surpassed this, recruiting 558 frontline officers.
“On top of meeting our overall growth target, we’ve also succeeded in creating a more diverse workforce, helping us to better represent the communities we serve.
“I’m incredibly proud of how hard teams have worked across the organisation to support the attraction, recruitment, training and development of these officers, not just new officers but welcoming those who have re-joined or joined us from other forces.
“Of course, there’s still much more to do on this and reflecting the wealth of different backgrounds and experiences across our communities remains a core commitment in our recruitment.”
To find out more about careers with Avon and Somerset Police, visit: Jobs and volunteering | Avon and Somerset Police