WEST Midlands Police are one of the first forces to recruit student officers to study for a degree while they serve.

Nationally, training for new officers is being overhauled, with policing following a similar pattern to nursing and other public service careers - where new recruits will learn the job as an apprentice, splitting their time between practical learning and study, earning a degree in policing at the end of their three-year training.

The force is now open for PC recruitment for the first time under the new student programme, meaning all recruits will join the new scheme.

Applicants will be able to apply via one of three separate entry routes:

• As a candidate with an existing degree, making the transition to a Graduate Diploma in Policing

• Joining and studying towards the police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA)

• Achieving a degree in policing prior to joining (not currently available nationally)

Chief Constable Dave Thompson is delighted to see the new approach launching in the West Midlands.

“Modernising entry into the police service is a subject that has been talked about for some time, but now we are seeing that come into effect, with the first of our new candidates being given the opportunity to join West Midlands Police, while studying for a policing degree," he said.

“It’s a huge step forward and is a massive change for policing.

“How we police our region is changing. We do not simply respond to incidents any more. Much of our work is about prevention and intervening early, where we can, to make a long-term difference to peoples’ lives."

He continued: “Our officers are skilled and have a huge amount to offer as a result of the experience and training they complete over the course of their careers, but now they will have a degree to reflect that.

“Our new people will have a qualification that is internationally recognised which, when they reach the point of moving on from their police career, will enable them to access more opportunities.

“Policing is such a busy, challenging and rewarding career choice and each of our 10,000 officers and staff will tell you different stories about what they do and why they do it but the thing that binds us as one, united force is the desire to help those in need.

“We hope this new approach will attract people from all walks of life, whether they want to join the police family or they have been interested by the ability to achieve a degree or a Graduate Diploma in Policing − an option that may not have been open to them before."

The student officers will train and study over either a two or three year period, depending on which entry route applies, with the degree being delivered in partnership with a university.

New officers will receive a starting salary of between £18,000 and £23,124 depending on entry route, previous qualifications and/or recognised prior learning.

Student officers completing the PCDA will complete initial training to help them learn the basics of policing before being allocated to a police team where they will learn the practical side of the job, while completing formal university study.

Learning will be flexible, with some classroom-based study as well as local delivery and online lectures.

Over the next year the force is looking to recruit 260 new officers, with training for candidates set to start in April 2019.

Prospective PCs can now start to complete their online forms, with the selection process, vetting and medicals set to take place through the summer and autumn.

To find out more, visit jobs.west-midlands.police.uk.