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There has been much talk recently of the national recruitment of up to 20,000 police officers. So what does this mean for the people of Cumbria?

If you have driven past Penrith on the A66 you will have noticed a fairly new building on the roundabout next to the fire station. This is the learning and development centre for Cumbria Constabulary and was completed last year. 

It’s a sign of an exciting time as we have the ambition to grow by a total of 168 officers over a three-year period. Overall, we will see the number of police officers reach a total of 1,367 in March 2023 - from 1,199 in 2019.

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This is great news for people who live in Cumbria or work or visit the county. It’s no secret that during austerity it has been difficult in policing, as in much of the public sector. The excitement around the opportunity to grow, as an organisation dedicated to serving Cumbria, is palpable.

We have opened up a number of different entry routes into policing in Cumbria.

We currently have entry routes open for both those people who already hold a degree, and those who do not; giving student officers an opportunity to gain a degree while working operationally. You do not need a degree to join the police.

We have many intakes planned over the next 18 months and have taken many intakes over the past two years for those who will study for a degree while employed by Cumbria Constabulary.

Studying for a degree while starting a new career is a real challenge - but one that our new recruits seem to be enjoying.

There are support services in place such as tutor units, protected learning blocks and a well- designed plan for the time while they are studying and working, but I don’t underestimate the challenge.

It is also quite a challenge as an organisation to put all this in place.

We have had to take officers from the front line to bolster the training and tutor staff teams, providing training on all aspects, from classroom theory through to practical skills such as officer safety training, driver training, first aid and much more.

Putting the large number of staff in place to do all this as well as provide extra staff within our support functions, including HR, occupational health and vetting, has been a huge challenge and one which has put many within our organisation under pressure.

I’m grateful for everyone’s support within Cumbria Constabulary. You get a real sense here of everyone pulling together and doing their bit. All this of course has been and is being delivered during a pandemic.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jonny Blackwell

We have not seen the absences that other forces have reported. I personally put this down to the officers and staff being determined to do their best, to keep things going and to deliver the best service to the public that they can.

They have put up with some really strict restrictions and PPE precautions that we have put in place for what seems like a very long time now. Regular testing and wearing of PPE have become the norm as have extended shifts and cancelled rest days.

We saw the largest policing operation last year where we sent around 100 officers to Scotland for the COP 26 event as part of mutual aid arrangements. This came after a very busy summer, full of events and a “new normal”.

We have made the most of our position as a force that is quite advanced in terms of technology, allowing many of our staff in business and support functions to work from home.

This has helped us to keep as many staff and officers at work as possible. I have countless examples of officers and staff who have tested positive but who have isolated at home, only to appear at meetings online and continue to conduct their work.

This discretionary effort is not for financial reward but through a sense of duty to the public.

There are many abstractions from the front line while we bolster the teams who are involved in the recruitment and training of new officers as well as abstractions during the period of learning for the students who are studying as part of the degree programme.

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This means that we may not be seeing all the benefits of new cops on the streets just yet but it is a good story of a future where we certainly will have more police officers than we have ever had in Cumbria.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jonny Blackwell

We will also be recruiting for another intake of Police Community Support Officers in the coming weeks.

The numbers of PCSOs has reduced recently as many have moved into roles with the Constabulary as police officers. I know how important to communities PCSOs are and I look forward to recruiting for this fantastic role soon.

Jonny Blackwell

T/Assistant Chief Constable

If you are interested in joining Cumbria Police as an Officer or member of staff, please visit our recruitment hub