Britain's top police officer believes London's first policing apprentices will start work within the next year.
The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) gave the green light for the level 6 degree apprenticeship standard in March, meaning forces can now start to recruit police apprentices.
Twenty-four police forces across England are already on the register of apprenticeship training providers, although London’s Metropolitan Police is not one of them.
During a talk about her policing career, commissioner Cressida Dick told students at London South East Colleges that the capital's police force expected to take on its first policing apprentices within the year.
“We are heading for apprenticeships. We will be having them sometime early next year. I’m looking forward to that,” she said.
Opening up a route
The commissioner added: “One of the things about policing is most people seem to want to stay and they want to stay for long periods. With my generation, the vast majority stay for 30 years. You don’t get the massive through-flow you get with some other places. We’re not a tech start-up. We’re something people come and join and stick with.
“Nevertheless, we need somewhere between 1,200 and 1,800 people to come in as police officers. I think the apprenticeship route is very exciting. I think it will allow us to get an even more diverse workforce. We have got 5,000 cadets in London and they are a real part of our service, and I would like to have more young people in service, and I think they will be more diverse.
“It will open up a route – that some people would have just felt like it wouldn’t be for me, I can’t do it. Some people at the moment get put off by the police knowledge certificate because you have to pay for that. We have started to find ways of how we can support people in that.
“I think apprenticeships should bring in people that might not have been able to think of us before, and will increase our diversity.”
A level 4 police community support officer apprenticeship standard is in the process of being developed.
College knife ban
Speaking after the talk, the commissioner said the force was working with colleges through the Metropolitan Police Service’s safer-schools officers (SSOs) to solve crime-related issues.
The government has announced that it plans to ban knives from colleges as part of its new Offensive Weapons Bill. Ministers and the Mayor of London have come under pressure to clamp down on crime following a spate of violence in the capital, with more than 50 people having been killed since the beginning of the year.
Ms Dick said the number of SSOs has been steadily increasing over the past few years, adding: “As part of the new local-policing model moving from the borough-based structure to the Basic Command Unit structure, we are planning to increase the numbers of police officers working with young people, educational establishments and care homes further.
“The SSOs are dedicated to particular schools and colleges, meaning they get to know pupils and school staff who may report crimes to them which may not have otherwise have been reported, such as drug offences, harassment – often via social media – and other offences.”
She also pointed to the Met’s Operation Trident, which delivers educational presentations to young people at youth groups and schools to educate about the dangers of carrying a knife.
London South East Colleges principal Sam Parrett said she was delighted that the commissioner spoke to college students in Woolwich, south London.
She said: “The two messages that stood out to me were the importance of continuously learning from others and to also ensure that you have ‘more than one string to your bow’. This is sound advice and I very much hope our students take it on board.”