Policing apprenticeships: Insights from Sussex Police Community Support Officer apprentices

Historically, a career in policing hasn’t always been seen as a natural choice for women. Ten years ago, the gender balance of police officers was roughly 3 male officers to every female. These days, however, this is fast approaching a 60/40 split, with the total number of female officers now exceeding 50,000 across England and Wales.

Sussex Police apprentices Loren Sims and Chelsea Greenfield provide a further example of how policing is becoming more inclusive and rapidly emerging as a career destination of choice for women and girls.

And with this week being National Apprenticeship Week, Loren and Chelsea are keen to share their stories of how they got into policing and what life is like as a Sussex Police apprentice.

Loren is currently undertaking a Level 4 Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) apprenticeship. When not on the beat she is usually found spending time with her young family.

After working in the contact centre at Sussex Police for 4 years, Loren got a taste for front-line policing and in a move that is increasingly common, decided to apply for the PSCO apprenticeship.

“I applied for the Level 4 PCSO apprenticeship as I wanted to be public facing again and this was the perfect job role to get me back into the community after being in an office environment,” Loren says.

“The apprenticeship has enabled me to apply for a police officer role and prepare me for the next step in my career.”

The Level 4 PCSO apprenticeship is a gateway that offers apprentices the chance to learn the ropes and gain a qualification required to be a police officer. And the supportive and inclusive environment Sussex Police have created in has meant that Loren has been able to successful juggle work and training alongside caring responsibilities as a parent.

“The force has helped me to become confident and able to express myself better,” says Loren.

“I used to hate public speaking however being a PCSO has grown my confidence in being able to speak in front of large crowds of people.

“My team are a family and when times get tough, we are there to pick each other up, and my supervisors have been great in supporting me in my personal life looking after my children.”

Loren’s entry route to an apprenticeship is not unique and she is at pains to stress that they are not just for young people taking their first steps into the world of work. In fact, it is increasingly common for people like her to develop their careers with their existing employer through an apprenticeship.

Unlike Loren, who had four years under her belt at Sussex Police before starting her apprenticeship, Chelsea came to apprenticeship life fresh having previously worked in childcare.

The diversity of experiences that apprentices bring to the table is really understood and valued by the force she says, who are helpful in supporting apprentices to overcome their individual challenges.

“I was working as a nursery practitioner and always knew that I wanted to join the police force. I applied to become a Police community support officer online and went through the application process and I was successful.

“I really enjoy working with the police, every day is different and I’m always learning new things.

“I didn’t feel like a confident person before I joined the police, but colleagues as well as friends and family have been really encouraging and this helped me to build up my confidence tremendously.”

Being in such a supportive environment was a boon says Chelsea, particularly when it came to her End-Point Assessment (EPA). An EPA is the final stage of an apprenticeship that candidates need to pass successfully to complete their apprenticeship and become a fully-fledged PCSO. Overseen by Ofqual-accredited awarding body SFJ Awards, all the years of learning as an apprentice come down to the EPA stage and according to Chelsea “the hardest part” of her journey. Nevertheless, Chelsea passed her EPA with flying colours, something she puts down to the support from SFJ Awards and her employer.

SFJ Awards is the End-Point Assessment Organisation of choice for the protective services, with industry leading expertise in Policing, Justice, Fire and Rescue, Custody and Detention, and Emergency Services. Follow SFJ Awards on Twitter and LinkedIn for more live insights into the apprenticeships we support during National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2024.

Start your EPA journey today and get in touch with the team.

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