New East Sussex police recruits share stories of first days in the job

New police recruits in East Sussex have shared stories of their first days in the job.

Three suspects were stopped and arrested following reports of a burglary in Wealden.

The recruit constables were out with their coach on June 21 on rural crime patrol when they heard three burglary suspects had made off at speed from the Chiddingly and Horam area after the homeowner had disturbed them.

Recruit PC Alex Criddle was in a vehicle with fellow recruits Charlie Ware and James Marchant - accompanied by one of their coaches, PC Betteridge - at the start of their first night shift.

Three suspects were stopped and arrested following reports of a burglary in Wealden by three new officers just days into their new jobs in East Sussex.

“When the description of the vehicle and suspects came in over the radio, we were actually on a directed patrol in Wealden targeting rural burglaries and drug activity,” said Alex, a former M&S retail manager.

“We could tell the wanted vehicle car was in the Hailsham and Hellingly area as it was triggering ANPR cameras.

“Having good local knowledge, I was able to plan where we could intercept the vehicle, and we got eyes on the car in Hailsham, dropping off one of the suspects - who PC Betteridge recognised. The vehicle sped off, but next time we found it, we managed to box it in. PC Ware and PC Marchant arrested the two occupants while I carried out a search.

“I found a lock knife, so I made my first arrest for possession of an offensive weapon. I found the training just kicked in and I felt calm and confident. PC Betteridge was there to support us throughout.

Recruit PC Alex Criddle who made two arrests after reports of a burglary

“Once other officers arrived to help get the suspects into custody, we returned to the address where the third suspect had jumped out - and I made my second arrest, on suspicion of burglary.

“At the end of that night shift I felt very proud that we had dealt with this incident promptly and effciently, and that we'd potentially taken three burglars off the streets of Sussex."

The three suspects have been released under investigation.

The new recruits are amongst sixty new Police Constable Degree Apprentices who joined the six new Dedicated Coaching Units (DCU) throughout Sussex in mid-June, having completed their initial nine weeks’ training. They're continuing their training on the streets alongside their coaches, who are experienced officers.

PC Charlie Ware who helped capture three burglary suspects on the run

Some have joined the new DCUs in Polegate and Bexhill, where they are working with local response teams.

East Sussex Divisional Coaching Units Sergeant, Len Fleckney, said: “I have been very impressed with the significant impact these officers have already made in their earliest days on division.

"Having completed their initial training during the challenges of lockdown, they have really hit the ground running. As well as catching suspects, making arrests and safeguarding the vulnerable, they have been geting stuck into solving various other issues affecting the day-to-day lives of local residents in East Sussex.

“They are one of our earliest cohorts of Police Constable Degree Apprentices to train with the force, and will work towards their degree over the next three years. The DCUs allow the recruits to take a more active role in frontline policing from day one, accompanied and guided by their dedicated coaches.

New recruits PC Simmons and PC Horscroft who took safeguarding action

"I am heartened by the great start they have made, and am confident they will continue making a positive difference to the people of East Sussex.”

Fellow Eastbourne and Wealden new recruits PC Reece Simmons and PC Jeniffer Horscroft were just hours into their first shift, in June, when they and their coach were called to reports of an assault in Eastbourne.

“I was nervous,” says Reece who served in the army before joining the police, “but once we arrived on scene, I found all the training and knowledge had sunk in.

“The elderly victims were distressed and after taking an initial account from them, it was clear they were vulnerable and needed protection.

“Once we'd located the suspect. I made the arrest for assault with the support of PC Horscroft and my coach. It was my first arrest so I was glad it went smoothly.”

“It felt very productive,” said PC Horscroft. “Our colleagues took the man into custody, and we ensured that long term safeguarding measures were implemented in order to protect the elderly couple."

“I previously worked as a PCSO in Lewes – and the best part of the job was helping people, so it’s great to be able to do even more to help.”

Reece, from Uckfield, added, “It felt great at the end of that first shift, knowing that you have made a good start in protecting and safeguarding vulnerable victims. What can be more rewarding than that?”

“I always wanted to be a police officer but joined the army first, serving in the Royal Tank Regiment as a lance corporal for five years. On leaving, I either wanted to do a degree or join the police, so I was pretty delighted I could do them both at the same time with Sussex Police, while earning a full salary.”

PC Alex Criddle adds, “In my previous job in retail management in Eastbourne, I did a lot of work tackling shoplifters, and worked with the police to report and deal with repeat offenders.”

“Now I am really enjoying going out each day, getting hands-on, helping our communities.”

After 15 – 21 weeks coached patrol in the DCUs, the recruits gain independent patrol and join community response teams, where they will continue to study for their degree in Professional Policing Practice over the remaining 2.5 years.