A former postman has become one of the country’s first apprentice Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
As a new recruit with the policing team in Wealden, Matt Duvall will train on the job on full basic salary and at the same time earn a professional qualification.
For Matt, the opportunity to work towards a professional qualification – the equivalent of a HNC or foundation degree – has been life-changing.
He said: “The apprenticeship means the world to me. I’ve wanted to join Sussex Police since I was a teenager, but as I left school with few qualifications I never thought I would be able to get in. Now I am eight months away from getting a Level 4 qualification.
“It’s so exciting doing a job I have wanted for more than 20 years. I’m really enjoying being out in the community, putting my new knowledge and skills to the test. I have a second baby on the way, so doing this locally on the job makes a big difference.
“I’d particularly like to help the local kids to try and steer them in the right direction. I grew up on a council estate in East Grinstead so I know what goes on and what I can do to help.”
Tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB) will be a prominent part of Matt’s role as a PCSO.
He will be taking part in high visibility patrols in hotspots, engaging with the community and partner organisations on a regular basis to help prevent antisocial behaviour and deal with the perpetrators.
As an apprentice, Matt, who is also a retained firefighter in the Crowborough area, will work alongside his tutor, a full time PCSO, for the first 10 weeks before gaining independent patrol status.
Julia Chapman, Assistant Chief Constable, said: “I am delighted we are offering this new qualification. We believe by offering an apprenticeship we can appeal to those who may not have considered policing as a career choice in the past.
“I am confident with these additional frontline PCSOs, we will be in the best position to achieve our aim of keeping our communities safe and feeling safe.”
And Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I’m pleased these PCSOs are now ready to launch their careers with Sussex Police and help to keep us all safer.
“Residents continue to tell me how much they value their PCSOs and the unique relationship that they develop with the local communities they serve.
Sussex Police and Surrey Police are the first forces in the country to introduce apprenticeships for PCSOs, which will eventually be rolled out across all 43 forces nationwide.
A further 100 PCSO apprentices will be recruited by Sussex Police over the next year to strengthen local policing, due to the increased 2019 council tax precept.
Matt and his fellow PCSO apprentices, who joined teams across the county in the last week, have already had 12 weeks’ training at the county HQ.
They will continue to work towards a Level 4 Diploma in Community Policing over the next nine months while working full time in the community.