Meet the new recruits who joined the force as the county locked down to fight the pandemic
As the nation went into lockdown and the force readied itself for the peak of the Covid 19 pandemic, new recruit PCSO Tara Reid McCoy was just about to start her new career on the streets of East Sussex.
Along with 33 fellow PCSO apprentices, Tara was deployed a few weeks early on 30 March to help boost the county effort to protect the NHS and save lives.
“We were so eager to get out there and help,” says Tara, who is now part of the Hastings Prevention Team. “We had already done two weeks shadowing with our teams out on the streets, and really wanted to do our bit to support the community and NHS.”
Adrian Rutherford, Director of Peoples Services said: “To assist the nationwide effort to contain the virus and save lives, we took the decision to deploy this cohort of PCSOs three weeks early to boost our local policing teams. We also readied our PC trainees for early deployment, should this be necessary.”
“The 34 PCSOs had completed the major part of their initial 12 week HQ training, so by consolidating the vital elements and rescheduling some of their non-essential training to later in the year, the recruits were able to rejoin their tutors in community policing teams sooner."
Heading out to their new policing teams in the next few weeks are also 61 new police constable apprentices who, despite experiencing lockdown just one week into their degree apprenticeship at Police HQ, have still completed their foundation training on time.
By adapting training to meet social distancing guidelines, recruits like PC Ramon Vaughan Williams were able to continue much of their classroom-based training at home through online learning and video conferencing.
“Despite the challenging environment,” says Adrian Rutherford, “We are pleased to say our recruitment and training of new PCs and PCSOs is 100 percent on track, ensuring we continue to get new officers out on the streets.”
“Through working with the College of Policing and embracing technology, our training team have been creative in ensuring our students can still fully engage with their learning programmes, tutors and colleagues while at home.”
“Trainees still come to HQ for practical elements of their programme like scenario training and personal safety training, with appropriate social distancing and other measures in place.”
“With these 61 PCs about to join their policing teams and another 70 PC apprentices due to start training next month, I am pleased to say we are still well on our way to achieving the expected government-funded uplift of 129 officers by March 2021. The force’s recruitment and training of staff and PCSOs funded by the rise in council tax precept is still fully on track as well.”
As a PC apprentice, Ramon will be joining the Brighton coaching unit* at John Street Police Station where he will do 21 weeks ‘coached patrol’ alongside his coach, a working police officer.
“I’m really excited about getting stuck in. We will be working mainly on response from the start, so we will be going out attending certain emergencies and other urgent issues.”
“I’m looking forward to engaging with the public and trying to help resolve issues and problems at this challenging time. As a civil enforcement officer in Worthing, I found I was able to help diffuse difficult situations through being a good listener and using a calm approach. I find life experience helps a lot.”
PC Tara Reid McCoy has now been on the streets of Hastings for six weeks, where she is continuing her apprenticeship alongside her tutor.
Just a few weeks into her career she was highly praised by her chief officers for her professionalism, confidence and resilience in assisting in the arrest of an abusive non-compliant individual.
“I think going in at the deep end, as we have at this time, has been a positive thing," said Tara. "I have drawn a lot of confidence from it. You don’t know how you will deal with a situation until you are in it.
“I always wanted to be a police officer as when I was a child some police officers helped myself and my family. As a PCSO you get to deal with things in slow time; you go into a problem seeing the bigger picture and help to change people's lives.”
Fellow Hastings recruit, PCSO Maria Barraclough, was inspired by her son, a response officer in Brighton, to join up after working as a security guard at Gatwick for many years:
“I was concerned I was too old to join but my son would keep pointing out how my life experience would hold me in good stead for dealing with the kind of incidents he was.”
“I’m glad I made the leap as I’m really enjoying it. Obviously with the new regulations and explaining them to the public, that has been a challenge but I am always alongside my tutor, PCSO Liam Janman, so you learn on the job.
“I love that every day is different. One minute you are patrolling the town centre and the next minute you are dealing with a neighbourhood dispute”
Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “The lockdown has meant that we have all had to adapt and change our ways of working. Sussex Police are no exception to this and I’m incredibly impressed by how they have stepped up to the challenge. They have found new ways to recruit and train both PCSOs and police officers so that we stay 100% on track with our plans to further strengthen our frontline during this crisis and beyond.
“The police are now not only here to uphold the law but they are also playing a crucial role in supporting the public health measures to keep us all safe. By working hard to get new recruits ready for early deployment, senior officers have made sure that they are out patrolling our streets as soon as possible.
“I want to thank everyone who applied to join and wish those who are just beginning their career with Sussex Police, the very best of luck.”
Notes for editors
There are six PC coaching units throughout Sussex at stations in Bexhill, Polegate, Brighton, Horsham, Worthing and Bognor.