’Ello ’ello ’ello to the town’s 14 new officers

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It has been at least two years since the town has welcomed any new recruits to its policing team.

But last week 14 new student officers were introduced to the Scarborough beat when they took part in a training exercise in the town centre.

Student officers Vicky Mason and Gavin Brown await instruction as part of a training exercise in Scarborough town centre. ''Picture by Richard Ponter 132631

Student officers Vicky Mason and Gavin Brown await instruction as part of a training exercise in Scarborough town centre. ''Picture by Richard Ponter 132631

Accompanied by their more experienced colleagues, the trainees were faced with seven mock scenarios – tackling everything from shop theft and robbery to street drinking.

Volunteer members of the public posed as offenders and victims of crime and put the officers to the test, challenging them on their knowledge of law and ability to handle real-life situations.

It marks the end of an intense 17 weeks of classroom training at North Yorkshire Police headquarters at Newby Wiske Hall in Northallerton.

Chief Inspector Mark Grange, deputy commander for Scarborough and Ryedale, said: “The purpose of the exercise is to pull together all their training and give them an opportunity to display their skills in a policing scenario. Each of these is observed by a tutor, who is a qualified officer, and at the end of it they are given feedback.

“They can run these sort of days anywhere in the force but because they are all coming to Scarborough they have been given the added bonus of getting to know where they are based. A big part of being a police officer and developing street skills is knowing the geography you are policing.”

It comes after a recent North Yorkshire Police recruitment drive saw more than 1,100 people apply for around 60 police constable positions, which will replace officers moving to other forces or retiring.

The campaign aims to fill approximately 60 vacancies between now and the end of 2014 to ensure numbers in the county remain stable.

Chief Insp Grange said: “This is the first tranche of officers of coming through then we have got another two starting training in mid July. I think North Yorkshire is one of the few forces in the country that is actually recruiting.

“It is good timing as summer policing is our busiest time – particularly in coastal areas, such as Scarborough, Filey and Whitby. However, it is more noticeable in Scarborough, where the new officers will all be working.”

On this occasion the trainees, most of them hailing from the area, all have a policing background, with recruits including PCSOS, special constables, force control room staff and a detention officer.

Student officer Mark Walton worked as a PCSO in Eastfield before applying for a role as a PC.

He said: “For me it was probably a little bit more of a career challenge, just because when I was a PCSO there was no progression available for other specialist or supervisory roles. So I want to make a career out of policing. I live locally so Scarborough is an ideal place for me to work.”

Accompanying him on last Friday’s exercise was Eastfield PC Phil Giblin, who was on hand to offer advice.

He said: “This is the first time I have been a tutor. We have worked together before and he has got a real keen interest in developing his policing skills.”

To ensure the training exercise was as realistic as possible, the student officers were called to each scenario by radio.

They then had to approach each role player as if they were a genuine offender or victim of crime.

Richard Baldwin, from York, played a street drinker in possession of alcohol who was loitering in The Crescent, a designated no drinking zone.

Speaking last Thursday, he said: “I head the volunteering programme for North Yorkshrie Police. When there is a role play for officers the email a whole stack of us and ask us if we can do it. Then when they get here they tell us what they want us to do. In this case I’m an alcoholic, which I’ve been in training for some time!

“They have done very well so far. To me the great thing is they don’t tend to be forceful, they are polite with it. They don’t get aggressive which is excellent.”

Once each scenario is played out, the officers are invited to comment on their own performance, before feedback is given from the volunteers and tutors.

Also speaking on the day, Sgt Rachel Wood, who helped co-ordinate the training exercise, said: “It’s really important after the scenario is finished that feedback is given to point out what they have done well and what they could have done differently and then they get the maximum learning experience from that. The biggest challenge the tutors face is not rescuing them and letting them get on with it, even if they make a mistake. Obviously in real life they would step in. The idea is simply to observe.”

The new recruits are due to pass out today, before being deployed to Scarborough permanently.

Sgt Wood added: “From what I have seen the day is going really well. The role players are doing a really good job of playing the parts for the officers on the scene, the street drinkers have been particularly realistic.

“I have been impressed with the officers level of knowledge and how they have all dealt with people.”

Fact file

* Scarborough’s 14 new recruits had to tackle seven different scenarios as part of a town centre training exercise last Friday.

The scenarios were:

Vulnerable person

Lost and found property

Anti-social behaviour/drinking in relevant place

Robbery

Going equipped/fraud

Shop theft

Statement writing

* Locations included Scarborough Library, the Brunswick Centre and The Crescent.

* The new recruits’ 18-week initial training forms part of their two-year probationary period

* They start work in Scarborough on July 22 and will work under the guidance of a tutor constable for 15 weeks. After that they will be fit to patrol on their own but they will be monitored and assessed during this time. Then when their two years are up they will be certified as a fully fledged police officer.

* All 14 will be based in Scarborough town.