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On patrol with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary

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Sociology A level students Jack Phillips and Tilly Thompson have both known that they wanted to work for the police since they were children (Tilly used to watch The Bill avidly, and Jack’s uncle works for the Metropolitan Police) – so it made sense to sign up for an A level with a Crime and Deviance unit.

Even better – their teacher, Tom Genillard, spent a day at Parkside Police Station and also visited Littlehey Prison near Huntingdon for his LINKs visits*. As a result, police officers from Parkside came to speak to our students about their jobs, their role in the community,  their opinions on punishment, and different crime prevention strategies. Both Parkside and Littlehey will be sending representatives to our careers event on 17th March.

And even better than that – Tilly has been out on patrol (she is already 18) and Jack will apply to do so when he is 18 in April.

Tilly talks about her day on patrol:

“For a start, it was much more exciting than I expected – I assumed that life in Cambridge was very calm and relatively crime free. I went round in a patrol car with a special constable, and he was soon turning on the flashing blue light on the roof! Our first task was to find a missing child – luckily we found him easily as he was just playing truant. We then had to attend a knife crime. I stayed in the car – and there were other police officers and vehicles there, including a van which took away the arrested man. You can’t just put someone in the back seat of a police car as they might attack the driver.

“By way of a contrast, we also went to help someone whose car had broken down. I was surprised about this but apparently it is quite common, in particular circumstances, to go to someone’s aid.

“We then had to find someone who was supposed to have attended a court session but hadn’t turned up. As the Cambridge Magistrates’ Court was closed by that time, we had to drive her to Peterborough. Finally, we tried to find some people who are on a ‘Wanted’ list.”

Jack says: “I am really looking forward to going out on patrol. The talk by Parkside Police was very interesting. They told us about the kind of crime scenes they need to attend – one day they spent five hours in a village and nearby, extremely muddy, fields looking for a missing child – a search which also, luckily, had a happy ending. They explained that after an arrest it would take them about four hours to complete the paperwork before they went out on a patrol again. What was interesting was that two of them had worked outside the police before joining up – one had been a graphic designer and the other an accountant.”

Jack and Tilly explained that if you want to work for the police, you need to volunteer as a ‘special’ for a couple of years before applying. You also need to have a paid job alongside this. It is quite competitive to get into the police force so excellent experience is essential. Tilly is currently working in a pub, which has given her lots of experiences of dealing with people. “I got quite an adrenaline rush being out on patrol,” she says, but both students agreed that it’s extremely important to remain calm and not lose your temper when you’re in a difficult situation.

So why do they want to become police officers?

“I would like to wake in the morning knowing that my day ahead will be worthwhile,” says Tilly. “The police are often portrayed in a negative light, but they are doing their best to do their jobs well and to make communities safer for everyone.”

“There’s more to it than arresting people,” says Jack. “It’s very varied and much more interesting than a desk job. You can make a real, positive, difference to people’s lives.”

*These took place last summer: Long Road staff spent a day with external organisations / companies to built up excellent contacts for student visits, work experience and potential future employment.