Right, you 'orrible apprentices! Red Caps sign up trainees

4th March 2011 at 00:00
Military policing is the latest recruit in the Government's drive to get young people into work. Stephen Exley reports

Apprentice police officers will soon be pounding the beat now a new training programme has been given the go-ahead.

A policing apprenticeship approved by the Skills Funding Agency will train new recruits to investigate thefts, assaults and traffic accidents, and to complete forms and write reports.

The initiative is the latest in the recent spate of apprenticeship schemes hitting the headlines as the Government bids to drastically increase the number available to young people.

The programme is geared towards military policing and has been drawn up in collaboration with the Royal Military Police - the policing corps of the British Army, whose members are known as Red Caps because of their trademark berets.

The level 3 apprenticeship has been devised to ease the transferral of police between forces, and sector skills council Skills for Justice is confident that further pathways to prepare apprentices for work in the civilian police will be developed.

Skills for Justice development adviser Des Jenkinson said: "The apprenticeships will teach generic police duties. We will have talks with the police on setting up differing pathways. It's not primarily a recruitment tool; initially there will be a cohort of 190 apprentices per year.

"The reason for the qualification is that it offers better transferability of skills. If (the apprentices) were to look from the military programme to get into civilian policing, they would be able to show better what they can do."

The course framework states it is designed "to attract new people into the policing services, to upskill the workforce, to replace those who leave or retire, and to provide progression routes in police and law enforcement or the wider justice sector".

The description adds: "It is anticipated that new pathways will be added to this framework, as the need arises, to include other policing services such as Home Office and non-Home Office policing."

The apprentices will be trained to become full non-commissioned officers in the Royal Military Police. It is hoped the apprenticeship will diversify the justice sector by attracting more women and ethnic minorities. Currently, 95 per cent of employees in the sector are white.

The apprentices will be trained to provide an initial response to incidents, including carrying out searches, arrests, interviews and managing conflict. They will also be shown how to conduct investigations and offer initial support to victims and witnesses.

Some non-commissioned officers take on roles such as community liaison officer and crime reduction officer working on army estates, while officers stationed in garrison towns often patrol town centres on Friday and Saturday nights.

They have the power to arrest army personnel anywhere in the world, but have no jurisdiction over civilians.

Applicants are expected to have the equivalent of GCSE English and maths, and school leavers as well as those with work experience are eligible to apply.

They are also expected to complete the first phase of the Army's basic training. The apprenticeship includes 636 guided learning hours and is expected to take 14 months to complete.

Skills for Justice said other defence police forces, including the Royal Navy Police and the Royal Air Force Police, are considering implementing the framework.


From fishing to floristry

Apprenticeships are available in more than 100 subjects, covering everything from nail services to mail services. Alongside traditional trade courses such as plumbing and construction, the programme has expanded into new job areas.

Apprentices can take on-the-job training courses in sea fishing, floristry and nuclear decommissioning, and receive tuition in growing professions such as video-game testing.

The Government is keen to recruit an extra 50,000 appentices this year, and the scheme's expansion means it now offers something for just about everyone.

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