ACC Sharn Basra and Sarah Mortimer with student officers Image Bedfordshire Police

Social distancing guidance meant a hunt for replacement facilities

Bedfordshire Police has been working with Central Bedfordshire College in Dunstable to provide training to student officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the pandemic and the new social distancing guidance, training facilities at Dunstable Police Station were not able to house all students.

The college offered its space free of charge for Bedfordshire Police’s learning and development teams. It also supported the force in maintaining a high standard of training for the current intake of students.

On Friday (19 June 2020) 16 student officers passed their initial training for the police officer role. These students will now work with response teams and increase numbers on the frontline.

Without the use of the college’s facilities there was the potential that student officers would have been split into groups and placed around the county. As well as the trainers traveling to the different teaching facilities, which would have been detrimental to the development of the student officers.

The space allowed for training groups to stay together and guest speakers to present face-to-face instead of over video call. The force was able to alter and personalise the rooms available which meant trainers could facilitate role play learning and the cohort could work better as a team.

Sarah Mortimer, vice principal at Central Bedfordshire College, said:

“It’s great to work with our local police force and provide a helping hand to student officers. I’m pleased our partnership has helped bring officers to the frontline and provided a great space for them to learn in. I’m looking forward to seeing the students out on patrol.

“We hope to continue to work together and offer our space when needed.”

Usual face-to-face career events were not an option

Since lockdown the force has had to utilise technology to engage with and attract potential new candidates to a career in policing. The usual face-to-face events were not an option.

Together with the support of Central Bedfordshire College, the force is hoping to host open events in the near future as it continues its recruitment drive. Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra, said:

“This new partnership with Central Bedfordshire College has proven invaluable when training our student officers. With their support we have been able to continue to provide the high-level standard of training to our students, including police officers, detectives and PCSOs.

“We can’t thank the college and Sarah enough for their support during this difficult time. It has really brought our two organisations together for the benefit of our community and we look forward to working together more in the future.”

While the student facilities in Dunstable Police Station have been empty, the force has taken the opportunity to upgrade the training classrooms. The students will return in September providing government guidelines allow.

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ACC Sharn Basra, Chris Bedwell and Students Image Bedfordshire Police