High flying PCSO blazes a trail for 35 new apprentices


New PCSO apprentice Chloe Wakeford joined Sussex Police to make a positive impact on people’s lives, so when she was alerted that a seven-year-old was missing during her second day in the job, the 25-year-old was determined to track him down.

Within half an hour Chloe had located the distressed child on Bexhill seafront. She calmed him down and took him by the hand.

“When I reunited him with his mum, she was so relieved and thankful. As a mum myself, I knew what she would be going through. It felt great to make such a big difference to someone’s life.”

It was the first of an impressive list of achievements that the Bexhill-born mum has clocked up policing the streets of Battle and Bexhill, alongside tutor, PCSO Neil Holden.

In just her first few weeks, she helped pursue and detain a wanted woman and uncovered a drug den from intelligence she got from a business owner. On her tutor’s day off, she took part in a warrant with police officers, helping to find more than 100 stolen items at a house. She has also helped settle neighbour disputes and defused an aggressive confrontation in the street.

Chloe is just one of the 100 additional PCSO apprentices Sussex Police has been recruiting over the last year, thanks to the 2019 rise in council tax. Many, like Chloe, are already out on the streets, learning on the job.

For the latest 35 apprentices, who have headed out to their new communities across Sussex for the first time this week, Chloe has set the bar high. The recruits will spend two weeks shadowing their new colleagues and meeting the public before completing their final four weeks’ training at police HQ.

And with another 34 apprentices recruits prepare to start training on 30 March, Sussex is set to reach the target of 100 extra PCSOs this month.

Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing Julia Chapman said: “I congratulate Chloe on the excellent contribution she has made to her local community and policing team; and all our new PCSO apprentices, who are making a positive impact on local policing across Sussex. 

“I’m sure the 35 apprentices who have gone out to shadow colleagues on the frontline this week will likewise make an excellent impression.

“Our PCSOs do an incredible job, engaging with the public and working alongside police officer colleagues to prevent and detect crime, and tackle anti-social behaviour in local communities. They perform a vital role in frontline policing, providing visibility and reassurance.

“As we near completion in recruiting an additional 100 new PCSOs for Sussex, we have had feedback from local residents and businesses that they are already seeing and feeling a difference. 

“These extra PCSOs put us in the best position to continue working with our partners to keep our communities safe and feeling safe.”

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The 35 apprentice PCSOs who are out meeting communities for two weeks

Chloe said: “I am loving the role. I worked in the police contact centre for two years before, and longed to be out in the community, helping the public, face-to-face.

“PCSOs play such a vital role. I’m learning so much from Neil. As a longstanding PCSO in the area, he knows the community and the beat well, and is able to pick up the vital intelligence the force needs."

The high-flier started her apprenticeship last October at the police HQ before joining the Rother team in January. As an apprentice, she gets a full salary from day one of the training.

“I didn’t go to university, and if it wasn’t for this apprenticeship, I doubt I would have got the opportunity to go back into education, as I am now mum to my 19 month-year-old son. It’s great to be earning a Level 4 qualification without getting in debt.”

Tutor, Neil, is passionate about the job after 12 years’ in the role.

“The more you put into the role, the more you get out. I went into this job, age 49, after a previous career in hotel management, and at 61, I still get so much out of it.

“I’m learning as much from Chloe as she is learning from me. You should never stop learning.”

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne comments: “Well done to Chloe, what an impact to make on your first few shifts on the beat. This should demonstrate to the public just how valuable the PCSO role is in gathering vital community intelligence, offering mediation to disputes and assisting officers in taking down criminals who are hiding under the radar.

“100 extra PCSOs will have been recruited by the end of this month thanks to resident’s contributions through the police precept. This will mean more boots on the ground, visible deterrents in our communities and hopefully give public confidence a boost - visible policing matters.”

We open for recruitment for PCSOs on March 16 2020. You can register your interest here.

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