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Training and development

Once candidates successfully complete the Special Constabulary recruitment process and start with West Mercia Police as Special Constables, they will then receive professional police training and be supported with development opportunities throughout their career.

Learning and Development Trainers provide the necessary knowledge and understanding to meet the needs of the organisation and that of the College of Policing. These are delivered throughout phases one and two over the 12-month Accompanied Patrol period.

What does the training involve?

Phase one of the training consists of a variety of inputs on law and procedure and officer safety training. The programme incorporates distance learning and experiential learning, in addition to traditional classroom-based learning.

This combination supports the principle that adults do not learn by simply attending a course but they also require mentoring, coaching and personal experiences to reinforce what is learnt in the classroom.

This means that during some weeks officers are involved in live training in a police facility classroom; and during other weeks they will take part in 'blended learning', working from home or taking part in online web seminars with the trainers.

All of the classroom-based learning is supplemented by pre-session learning which is completed before the relevant sessions. This can include specific tasking sheets, knowledge checks and digital learning.

The training programme concludes with an examination.

What is covered on the initial training:

• Law - including legislation such as the Theft Act, Criminal Attempts Act, Offences Against The Person Act, Public Order Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act.

• Officer Safety Training - first aid training and physical tactics, including restraints, handcuffing, use of PAVA incapacitant spray, auto lock batons, safe ways of searching and basic water rescue training. This also includes interactive training on using the National Decision Model and how it applies within West Mercia Police's Vision and Values.

• The use of police 'Airwave' handheld radios.

• Custody Procedure - how to present a person under arrest to the Custody Sergeant and what happens within police custody suites.

• Training coverage on the European Convention on Human Rights and how this ties in with police operations in the UK.

Phase two

During the 12 months candidates complete an Accompanied Patrol programme, as part of phase two of the training. They accompany experienced police officers, and have further mandatory classroom-based training sessions to build on their knowledge and understanding, and incorporate what they have learnt in an operational context.

Candidates also work through a portfolio to record the good work they do in order to meet the National Occupational Standards for a Special Constable.

During this time candidates will also attend three further training sessions covering more advanced operational skills.

They have to demonstrate that they are 'safe and legal' in certain core policing skills; this is recorded on Police Action Checklists (PACs) in a portfolio, similar to those that are used by regular officers in their initial training.

Following the successful completion of the 12-month programme, there is no formal qualification awarded, but through the evidence obtained candidates will be designated to be 'safe and legal' to patrol independently.

Roles and responsibilities

Candidates are responsible for monitoring their own progress and maintaining up to date and accurate records of evidence in their portfolio.

Supervisors are responsible for monitoring their progress while they are developing in the role and gathering evidence for independent patrol status. An experienced officer will verify the evidence claimed or examined.

Those undergoing the training may patrol with experienced Special Constables or regular police officers while working towards Independent Patrol status.

Members of the Special Constabulary Management Team are responsible for assessing candidates' written evidence and signing off the College of Policing National Occupational Standard PACs.

Supervisors should assign officers to work on a patrol shifts alongside regular Patrol Officers or Senior Special Constables. The supervisor should be sighted on the core competencies and activities contained within the trainee's portfolio and safely expose them to situations and incidents to develop their skills.

Progress Reviews and Independent Patrol

Candidates' progress will be reviewed regularly by their line supervisor, and will incorporate the regular supervisor on the shift the trainee is assigned to.

Candidates will only achieve Independent Patrol Status once they have attended all phase one and phase two sessions, passed the final written exam to ensure knowledge and understanding, and completed all elements of their portfolio to demonstrate their performance.