Tracy Horky, 39, is currently (as of 2021) undergoing her training as a police constable via our Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) entry route. Before joining us a at Cumbria Constabulary she had a previous career as a financial planning consultant.
What made you want to join the police?
I felt I needed a fresh challenge after almost 20 years as a financial planning consultant but wanted the opportunity to continue helping people and using problem-solving skills. I also felt personally invested in the future of my community due to having a young family, therefore joining the police felt like the natural choice to allow me to use my existing skills, develop new ones and make a positive difference.
Can you tell us a bit about the structure of your course?
The PCDA course is a 3-year programme and combines academic studies with police training. The initial 22 weeks are spent at Police Headquarters with our course tutors; during this time, you learn about police procedures, practices and legislation as well as undertaking exams and essays. After the initial 22 weeks, you join your territorial police area and your continued academic learning coincides with serving as an operational student police officer.
How was the application process? Any advice you would give to others?
The application process isn’t easy but highlights the desire of the force to ensure the right people are progressed and also the desire and dedication needed from those who apply. The assessment centre was tough, but it gives you good insight into the types of challenges you will face as a police officer and the need to be able to think and respond quickly.
My advice to others who are considering applying would be to carry out your own research to understand what the process entails and help you decide if the role is right for you, there is heaps of information on the internet and you can always speak to local police officers to find out more. Take the time to prepare for each element of the process, from the initial interview to the assessment centre and fitness test.
How are you finding your degree apprenticeship so far?
I’m really enjoying the course so-far, the workload is challenging as it combines operational police training and the academic element of the course. However, it is amazing how much you can absorb and develop in a relatively short space of time, even at the age of 39!
What have you enjoyed the most so far and what are you looking forward to?
I’ve really enjoyed combining the academic aspect of the course with the police training. I think it demonstrates some new ways of approaching policing and allows you to consider different ways of addressing problems whilst also getting to grips with the operational skills I will need. I’m really looking forward to being operational, helping to keep our streets safe and hopefully seeing the hard work pay off.
What advice would you give to others thinking of joining Cumbria Police via the PCDA route?
Don’t let age or background put you off – the initial perception of an “apprentice” is somebody who has just finished their education and who is typically under 25. However, the PCDA course breaks those boundaries and provides opportunity to a wider range of people with different levels of experience. The programme allows you to combine a career with academic studies, so you need to be passionate about becoming a police officer but also see the benefits studying can make to the role.