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Taking the leap

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#1 Lord Vader

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 09:46 AM

As many of you will now know, I am starting as a regular PC at the end of January 2004. I had kept it quiet because this being a public forum and all, you never know who is reading - like my boss! But now the story can be told (for those who are interested).

I'll try to give you the whole story here up to where we are today. Some of the dates will be a bit wooly because we're going back almost 18 months here. As I go through the training I'll add more to the diary.

Just a reminder that in this and all the diaries, any replies get deleted (because it's meant as a journal for the diarist, not as a discussion thread). At last my chance to say what I like without getting corrected ;) OK here goes!

Summer, 2002
By this point, I've been in IT nearly 18 years. I've ended up working for one of the biggest companies in the business. Not quite sure how, because career planning has never been my strong point. I started in this company doing something I'm OK at (sales) and ended up doing something I am rubbish at (project management). Not quite sure how that happened!? All I do know is I am restless, very bored, and at 34 years old wondering if I'm going to be doing this until I get the gold watch and the handshake in 26 years time... now, what would I really like to do with my life I wonder ;) For more about the 'why am I doing this' aspect, see this thread.

October, 2002
We've sat down and looked in detail at the finances. A copper's salary compared to my current one is a bloody nightmare. But it's not about the money, is it? I keep telling myself this!!! Decide to apply to my local police force.

I get the application forms, and fill them in. They're remarkably straightforward, just like applying for any other job - education, employment history, skills, interests, financial health, previous addresses (including when I lived in France!), medical history, and an equal opportunities form. I guess that's a bit different to most other jobs. As is the family details. I also have to supply two referees and sit a standard eyesight test (at my own expense). That lot goes into an envelope complete with a mugshot of myself and I sit and wait... and wait... two weeks later I give them a call to check they received it - no trace! Looks like I didn't put enough postage on the envelope ;) how embarassing! Luckily I kept a copy of the application (top tip guys!) and complete a new one. The opticians even gives me a copy of the eyesight test without charge. The second application goes in the post with plenty of stamps on it ;) Postscript: The original application turned up about a month later back to me, with 32p to pay :whistle:

Over the next few weeks, I tell a few of my regular colleagues that I'm taking the plunge. There's an interesting range of reactions - most of them are so supportive, full of encouragement. A few think I'm barking mad (they know I am well paid in IT!), and one or two think I'm making a mistake. I don't think so ;)

#2 Lord Vader

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 10:00 AM

December 2002
Success! Well only in that this time they got the application forms :-) I get a letter telling me they are considering my application. In the meantime, I focus on getting a bit fitter. During 2002 I've lost a stone in weight - not because I expected to be applying to the police, but after two accidents where I knackered each shoulder in turn. My long hours with the physio (no chore, she was lovely :whistle: ) with no top on (me, not the physio) in front of a long mirror convinced me the time had come to lose some weight!! So the next stage is to get fitter. My mate Willo from this site is a bit of an expert and draws up a programme for me, built mainly around lots of running. I started it in earnest in October and am already feeling much fitter. But the fitness test still looms large, especially the dreaded shuttle run ;)

Just before Christmas I get another letter inviting me to take the Police Initial Recruitment test (PIR) at HQ on 13th Feb. It's a long time away - good in that it gives me longer to focus on my fitness, bad in that it's all taking so long! At about this point I speak with the fitness instructor at my gym who helps me out further with a programme to build up my stamina, needed for the shuttle run. To practise for the PIR I get a great little book which helps me practise the tests (see recommended reading). They're not particularly hard questions, it's the time you have to worry about!

13th February 2003
Sit the PIR at HQ with about 20 other candidates. I've practised enough at home so in fact I don't find it too hard, and manage to answer all the questions in the time given.

14th February 2003
Valentines' Day brings a letter telling me I've passed the PIR - hurrah! It also invites me to take the fitness test on 21st March at 0800 - what does the 'oh' stand for? 'Oh' my god it's early ;) Continue doing the running and fitness programme, the fitness test date is scarily close!

21st March 2003
Attend HQ at 7.30 on a crisp morning, feeling very nervous. If anything the fitness test is probably the stage I am most dreading. There are other recruits there, mostly younger than me, in their early 20's. At 8.00 we start the test. The instructor is excellent, very encouraging, and explains everything in detail. The agility test is tough - getting round cones in 28 seconds or less, but I manage it in 25 point something. The push/pull tests and grip strength tests are fine. That just leaves the dreaded shuttle run!! The beeps of doom sound, and we're off.... and in no time at all we've reached level 8.1 and the instructor is telling us to stop. I feel fantastic, I did it! Out of the group of half a dozen of us, everyone passed. That's great news ;) Start texting the world and his wife with my good news ;)

Postscript: about a month after I took the test, most forces dramatically reduced the standards required for the fitness test on Home Office advice - doing away with the agility run, and cutting the shuttle run to level 5.4... ho hum!

#3 Lord Vader

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 10:15 AM

26th March 2003
A letter inviting me to the final stage of the selection programme, a full day assessment centre at HQ. This is where the knowledge I got at the IntoBlue course comes into play ;)

There's also a long security questionnaire to fill in, this they use for more detailed checks into your background, etc.

10th April 2003
This is it, the assessment centre. I turn up at HQ at 0800 wearing a suit. There's about a dozen other candidates, most are smartly dressed like me, although one or two are casually dressed. I know we're not assessed on how we look, but I am treating today like an interview - it's the day that will decide the course of the rest of my working life!

I have to take with me three seperate forms of identification including my driving licence and birth certificate - they also need something with a photo on it, so I bring my passport (including very bad picture of me with bad hair :whistle: )

The assessments take place in a police house at HQ. It consists of a series of tests, for which the applicants are split into two groups. The tests include writing a report based on various sources of information, letter writing, as well as a series of role plays, and a group exercise based around a planning project.

We break for lunch halfway and in the canteen I bump into a few regulars who I know. They're all pretty surprised to hear I'm on my assessment centre but everyone wishes me luck!

The day ends at about 1600. I am utterly knackered! I think I've done OK but it's very hard to be sure. We're told we'll hear by letter in the next day or so.

15th April 2003
The letter arrives and I've been successful - the letter offers me an appointment as a Police Constable ;) They advise me to keep up my fitness because it's reassessed early in the training process. Next stage is to attend a medical at HQ.

This is the toughest time, there's no-one at work I can tell, and I have to keep it really quiet on the forum, although of course I tell friends and family when I see them.

6th June 2003
Attend HQ for a medical examination by the force medical examiner. When I arrive, they aren't expecting me!!! Luck is on my side though, firstly I have the letter with me confirming the date and time, secondly someone else just cancelled their appointment!

First I complete yet another medical questionnaire, then there's a series of tests - lung capacity, eyesight, blood pressure, urine test, height/weight (body mass index) and a hearing test. This last part shows a drop off in my high-frequency hearing but the doc signs it off as OK... phew! So I walk out of there knowing everything is OK!

#4 Lord Vader

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 10:26 AM

8th November 2003
Attend HQ with about 70 other successful candidates for a presentation about "streamed" intakes. The force I am joining has for some years now split officers into three seperate disciplines - response (dealing with 999 calls), community (local policing), and investigation (investigating crime). After hearing all about these streams, including presentations from serving officers, we're asked to express our preference. We also say where we would prefer to be based. I plump for community (I think it offers the best variety of policing work) and choose the division where I am based as a Special at the moment.

A couple of days later I get a phone call from recruiting - the can offer me community but only on a division which is miles and miles from where I live. Unfortunately for me under this new streaming model, each division specifies how many new officers they want in each intake. The division I chose doesn't need any and I hear a rumour that they won't for much of 2004. So I accept the offer. I'm there for 3 years, of which 2 years is training. That time will fly by, and after that I can apply for a transfer to an area closer to home. Plus it'll be interesting to work somewhere new.

19th November 2003
The formal offer of appointment arrives. This is it! A big package with lots of information about pensions, healthcare, the police authority and lots of other stuff. There's also an abbreviated copy of the police regulations under which I and every officer must operate. There's a form inviting me to declare membership of the freemasons :whistle: And another bit of paper for Centrex, who run the regional training centres. I fill everything in, sign on the dotted line and send it all back - blimey, I'm actually going to be a copper!!

And that's it, you're up to date. Next I am expecting a letter with more detailed joining instructions in mid-January, and I start on 26th Jan with a two-week residential course at HQ. Talk about New Year new start ;)

#5 Lord Vader

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 06:44 PM

31st December 2003
Well that's it then, today I signed off from operational duty for the last time as a Special after a 10 and a half hour shift. I've been a Special since June 1991 so it felt a bit strange and sad, but at least I know I'll be back, just with a different number on my shoulder I guess!

The weirdest thing is that what with all the training, it'll be seven months or so before I'm back on the streets in uniform - I'll probably forget what it's like!

#6 Lord Vader

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 06:46 PM

Week 1 (26 Jan 04)
Day one of my new career, exciting stuff! We have to be at HQ for 0900-0915, and despite leaving home with plenty of time to spare, by 0900 I am still stuck in solid traffic several miles from HQ -- panic!!!
By some miracle (not to mention a few back-street short-cuts!) I make it to training school by 0915, get my pass and room key, and meet a few of the other new recruits before the day starts proper at 0930.
There's about 24 of us on this intake, and after a brief welcome from the heads of the training school and recruitment, we're split into two classes. I'm with one lady who was a special with me, so I know someone at least!
The first pleasant surprise is that of my class of 12, most people are my age or older... I was expecting to be the oldest with most recruits being in their early 20's, but as it is the average age of our group is probably in the early to mid 30's.
The rest of the day is spent doing introductory exercises to get to know each other, as well as going through our "Needs, Concerns and Expectations" for the future :)
We also get all the housekeeping info - where to park, what time is breakfast, lunch and dinner, all that good stuff.
At the end of the day we are each given a big plastic box full of all our uniform and other kit. I am the only person who has every item of uniform, all of which fits, and nothing broken - one poor guy hasn't even got a jacket! I guess it will all get sorted out in due course though...
That evening we have a couple of definitions to learn, nothing too taxing, after that I nip out to the supermarket to get some things I forgot - and some bananas for when I get peckish, dinner is at 5pm for goodness sake :whistle: Later I meet up in the bar with the rest of the class to talk over day 1 - a very nice introduction to the force!

Day 2 and we all turn up in neatly pressed uniform. For those who have never worn police uniform before it's very exciting - even for me, there's a certain excitement, I'm wearing different collar numbers for a start - not a big thing but it brings it home to me that this is now for real ;)
The day is taken up with a whole range of stuff - a talk from pay section, where we're told about our starting salary and benefits.
Also input on ranks, RTCs (practicals and law), and how to stop traffic! This is in case we come across something on our way to / from work and feel we need to deal.
Finish at 5pm feeling tired but happy. I haven't been bored, I am really enjoying the classroom time and I'm with a great bunch of people.

Day 3 - 5 passed in a bit of a blur, to be honest - plenty more classes and talks from various people - including the structure of the force, a session on fingerprints where we take each others' prints, great fun :D and more definitions and basic law stuff. I can now recite (almost) word perfect a load of definitions I never knew before, like Burglary, Road, Motor Vehicle, Robbery and Going Equipped. We're tested on one or more of these most mornings, and also usually have a uniform inspection in the morning. Our class look fantastic - very smart ;)
The first week ends at about 3pm on Friday with a talk from one of our Assistant Chief Constables, then its' home to a weekend of relaxing and looking forward to Monday - first time I've been able to say that in years!!!

#7 Lord Vader

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Posted 06 February 2004 - 11:48 PM

Stage 1/Week 2 - 2 Feb 2004

Well another week has flown by in a blur - I can't quite get used to this strange feeling of actually enjoying my job!!

During this week we've really got to grips with our law definitions - by the end of the week I'm word perfect on all 15 of the little devils ;)

We also spend time reviewing our training programme for the next 6 months or so, including getting our joining instructions for a series of courses in June - it seems so far away!

Early in the week we each meet our new best friend - the Professional Development Portfolio, better known as the PDP. This enormous thick folder contains our developmental guide from now until the end of our probation in 2 years' time. Lots and lots of evidencing of skills, etc!

We discuss the need for a study plan when we get to our Police Training Centre (PTC) - with at least 2 hours study a night recommended, it's important to know when and how it can be fitted in (around all that other important stuff, like relaxing, ironing uniform, bulling boots and going to the bar ;)).

We cover questioning skills, statement writing and ADVOKATE, which includes watching a quick role play of a robbery and then describing what we saw. Unfortunately for some of the class, they were busy looking in the other direction so didn't make very good witnesses ;)

We spend some time discussing property and the role of the police in dealing with lost / siezed property.

At the end of the week, we had an exam (also known as a "Knowledge Check") which covers most of the subjects we've studied in the last two weeks. I'm pleased to report I scored 90% - would have been 92% but I talked myself out of one of the answers and changed it from the right one to the wrong one... to my eternal embarassment, it was a question on the definition of theft!!! :) :whistle:

Thursday evening is the big event of the week - our attestation! Friends and family come along to see us get presented with our warrant cards by the Chief Constable in a very pleasant and even moving ceremony. Which is followed by FAR too much beer. I got to bed about 1am, many much later... not quite sure what went on after I went to bed, but when I got up in the morning the corridor outside my room was covered in popcorn. I kid you not!

Friday we had a Stage 2 briefing (including lots of questions and concerns about Ashford PTC - some of the rumours about the quality of the accommodation, food etc had many people worried... luckily for me, I'm off to Bramshill :D), a debrief on the exam, and then one-on-one tutorials. Then home for the weekend!!

Monday I'm off to the PTC and will post another update as soon as I get chance :lol:

#8 Lord Vader

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 07:31 PM

Stage 2/Week 1 - 9th Feb

It's day one of my Stage 2 foundation training and I report to the Police Staff College, Bramshill at 0930. Bramshill is the senior officers' training college, but luckily they also have a small foundation training course (about 150 officers at a time) and even more luckily I am one of the three officers from my force to get a place here!

I get my room key and unload my car of assorted bags. The room is excellent, better than some hotel rooms I've stayed in! I have a big bed, lots of storage space and a nice working desk looking out onto trees, grass and the Bramshill mansion beyond - very nice!

At 1030, uniform on, I head over to the Hall where we're having our welcome briefing. I find a load of Thames Valley officers also looking for it and eventually we find the right room. When I walk in, the whole room falls almost silent and everyone looks at me! I say "good morning", find a seat and everyone carries on - what was all that about??

We hear from the Sergeant in charge of training, the head of Bramshill's extensive Sports and Social Club, and the housekeeping staff. Then we meet our trainer and we're off to the classroom where we'll spend most of the next 15 weeks!

Our trainer is an ex-Police Sergeant and we quickly warm to him. He's a good natured Geordie with a wealth of anecdotes from his 30 years' service which makes for some very entertaining lessons.

The meals at Bramshill are excellent, very good quality and big portions. I could very easily put on plenty of weight what with three hot meals a day! At lunch on the first day, the mystery of the silence when I walked into the briefing room is solved – no, I didn’t have my flies open (!), the reason was that my force’s uniform looks quite different to most other forces’ who have switched to the national uniform. Apparently people thought I was the Inspector come to take the briefing!!

The weeks' lessons seem to fly by, and consist of a range of topics including models of policing; tackling crime and patrol effectively; the criminal justice system (including an excellent "mock trial" complete with magistrates, solicitors and witnesses!); crime prevention; victim needs and management, and managing physical evidence. Homework varies but on average it's about an hour a night at the moment, mainly pre-reads, post-reads and learning definitions. The hard work spent learning definitions during the first two weeks at HQ has paid off handsomely (top tip!).

On day 1 we meet our "strategic trainers", these guys are the ones who put us through our fitness training and tests, as well as UDT, cuffing, etc. They seem like good guys! On the second day we're down the gym for an hour and a half of PT - good fun but hard work. We also get an induction on the extensive gym. Bramshill has gym and fitness classes every day, some starting at 0645 for the really keen (I haven't made any of those yet!)

The week ends with an 0815 parade to see the senior class get inspected by the top brass. This is in preparation for their passing out in Week 15. Our class has several ex-military people in it and we've already done a little bit of drill practice, so I hope we will be polished and professional come our passing out.

Friday lunchtime we finish at 1230, and I'm home with the family about half an hour later. A very enjoyable first week and I am really looking forward to Monday!

PS: will take my camera next week and try and get some pictures (if I am allowed...)

#9 Lord Vader

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 08:52 PM

Stage 2 / Week 2 - 16th Feb

A busy week, with the work starting to pile on now. We've had a fair amount of homework every evening, with definitions to learn as well as pre- and post-reads.

We start at 0815 on Monday morning with a class meeting, which really turns into a big "what did you do at the weekend" session. Nothing wrong with that, everyone is getting on well which is great to see.

During the week we have sessions on Race & Diversity, this time really helping us to examine our own values and understand how these can - if we aren't aware what we say and do - translate into inappropriate behaviour. A pretty uncomfortable session which really makes you think.

I'm very pleased and flattered to be voted "class leader" by my colleagues during the week. I hope I can help keep the class working together as well as it already is - it's a pleasure to see and some firm friendships are already being made.

We spend a couple of days looking in detail at some of our most important PACE powers - S.24 (arrestable offences), S.25 (general arrest conditions), and S.32 (search following arrest). Although as a Special I made lots of arrests, this is the first time I have really understood in detail how these powers are supposed to be applied. S.32 especially is a real eye opener - did you realise for example that you must have reasonable grounds to believe that a prisoner has something on them to harm you or them (for example)? I didn't!

We do a detailed lesson on Summons and Warrants (something else I never really understood as a Special, beginning to wonder how they ever let me loose on the public :)) and are then each given a summons to "serve" on a member of staff during the next 2-3 weeks. This task isn't as easy as it sounds - some staff members do a runner as soon as they see you approaching with the summons in your hand, or pretend to be someone else! I manage to catch my staff member at her desk and before she knows what's happening, I've served it ;)

Later in the week we have another 90 minute fitness session, this time it's a so-called "Fitech", whereby we are tested on things like lung capacity, grip strength, body fat (bit depressing in my case :whistle:), flexibility and the like. We end the session with the dreaded shuttle run - I am very satisfied to reach level 9.1 - followed by counting the number of press ups and sit-ups we can do in a minute. Then it's straight in the shower, dried, back into uniform and into the classroom. It's tough this policing lark ;)

Friday we're all down on the parade ground at 0815, bright and early on a freezing cold morning. Everyone's in their No.1 uniform. We look smart but tunics aren't exactly good for keeping the wind out, so we're also frozen solid! We have a 45 minute parade. Luckily for me, the officer inspecting our class turns out to be a Surrey PC who is so impressed by my shiny shoes he doesn't notice that my numbers are missing from my tunic ;) I'm waiting for them to arrive from stores!

Home on Friday afternoon to a restful weekend. But I am looking forward to work on Monday again!

To finish, here's a couple of pics of my room and more importantly, the view from my window. You can see Bramshill Mansion up there on the hill. Very nice!

Chez Moi 1
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Chez Moi 2
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Le Mansion
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#10 Lord Vader

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 09:44 PM

Stage 2 / Week 3 - 23rd Feb

Blimey, another week gone by! That one really flew!! Pretty busy but a very interesting week's work. Monday we met our new trainer - we now have two, who share the workload between them. The new trainer is another Geordie, exactly the same age as me - well 3 days apart at least, and very different to his colleague. His style is much more direct and rapid - but they complement each other really well. I think we've been very lucky in our allocation of trainers, mind you we are losing one of them after week 6 ;)

This week we got into some proper offences, looking in depth at Theft, Criminal Attempts, Burglary, Criminal Damage and Robbery. This involves firstly learning the definition word-for-word, then in class breaking the definition down and looking at each word or phrase in turn, before putting it all back together again and testing our knowledge with a whole load of different scenarios.

We also spent a lot of time looking at powers of entry - S.32 and S.17, as well as powers of search / seizure - S.18 and S.19. Again, there's lots of depth to these, not to mention assorted acronyms to learn for them all.

Mid week we enjoyed a quiz night - great fun, loads of people taking part, and a good chance to unwind. We came, er... 6th. Out of er... well, that's not important - it's the taking part and all that :)

Unfortunately on Monday I managed to pull a muscle in my back after a run, so I had to cry off P.E. on Wednesday. Unluckily for me, I didn't realise that you're supposed to report injuries immediately. I was informed of this by the PT instructor. In front of the entire class. At some length. Ho hum :whistle: Anyway I had to go and fill in three forms, including a written report into how the injury happened, and I have to sign in at admin every day. Phew! Once I'm better, there's no way I'm getting hurt again :lol:

We spent an entire day doing practicals (role plays) in the specially built practical suite. This has a flat (very nice, telly works and everything!), a bar, and even a police station and custody suite. That day was my turn to be role player so I spent the whole day either being a victim or a suspect... so that's what it feels like to get nicked :D

The week ended with a knowledge check (like a mini exam) of all the stuff we've learned so far in the last 3 weeks. I am very happy that I got 32 out of 35. But I'm also very annoyed with myself that I got one particular question wrong - I knew the answer was "a", and wrote "b" on the answer form... well, duuuuuuur ;)

Next week we're piling into even more offences, as well as loads more practicals, which I really enjoy - being outside in the fresh air, and getting paid for it too, can't be bad!

#11 Lord Vader

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 05:23 PM

Stage 2 / Week 4 - 1st Mar

This has been the toughest week so far with a whole pile of learning coming our way! Lots of detail on stuff like handling, deception, offensive weapons, going equipped, as well as our stop and search powers under S.1 PACE. We also got to spend time doing some practicals to practice what we've learned so far.

I had to be excused from P.E. again on Monday due to my strained shoulder - even though it was getting better the instructor told me to go see a doctor straight away and get it checked out... which I duly did. Blimey after all that running about with forms, doctors and the like, I'll think twice about getting injured again, that's for sure! Maybe that's the point... :whistle:

Tuesday night we had a class video night, but no-one turned up except me! Not that I'm unpopular or anything ;) Well I sat and enjoyed Love, Honour and Obey... great movie! Then Wednesday there was another disco, hosted by the senior class, who are raising funds for Cancer Relief.

This week has been fun but also pretty hard work, and people are starting to worry about next week I think - it's our week 5 exam, 90 minutes (I think) done under proper examination conditions. Our trainer has spent time on a couple of revision sessions with us and says he's confident we will all do pretty well on Monday... let's hope he's right ;)

More to come next week (assuming my exam results aren't so appaling they sack me on the spot... ;) ;))

#12 Lord Vader

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Posted 11 March 2004 - 09:04 PM

Stage 2 / Week 5 - 8th Mar

Monday morning starts with our first exam - a 70-question multi-choice check of everything we've been learning about over the last 4 weeks. The exam lasts an hour and a half and is done under proper exam conditions. I feel pretty good but struggled on a couple of areas, in particular Criminal Damage Further Offences, and Found on Enclosed Premises. Reason being - I hadn't properly learned the definitions. Where I know the definitions word perfect, I found the questions much easier - note to self: learn the definitions!!!.

It's followed immediately by Phys Ed - the trainers know we've just had our exam so to cheers us all and and relieve the tension, they take us on a 3.5 mile march! It's actually a very nice day and our class works very well together as a team. Everyone makes it and we learn a lot about encouraging and supporting our colleagues.

This week we started learning about Traffic offences. Much more straightforward than Crime, because it's all absolute offences. With traffic, they either did it, or they didn't. None of this worrying about "intent"!

Tuesday morning we're out and about in the fresh air again, doing more role plays to test our knowledge of deception offences. I get to be a role player again - something I really enjoy. Just as we're finishing up those, the trainer arrives with the exam results, so we all troop back to the classroom feeling very nervous!

It's great news - our class is top of the 11 classes in the Ashford Estate ;) My mark is a stonking 92% :whistle:!!! Even so I am only 2nd in the class, with another chap hitting 93%. Still, I am of course absolutely delighted.

The rest of the week is taken up with more and more traffic offences - and for me the highlight of the week's lessons has to be a fantastic video they show us to illustrate the concepts of "use, cause, permit and aid & abet". Shot in about 1972, this black and white video looked like something from Harry Enfield's show - I expected Mr Cholmondley-Warner to appear at any moment. It had us all in stitches!!

We finished on Thursday evening because tomorrow the senior classes are passing out, and they don't want us junior types making the place look untidy ;) When we return on Monday we'll be the intermediate class... I can't believe that the first five weeks has flown by so quickly, really amazing!

#13 Lord Vader

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 01:49 PM

Stage 2 / Week 6 - 15th Mar

Another week packed with traffic - we spent time covering everything from interfering with motor vehicles to construction and use offences, as well as learning how to issue HO/RTIs and FPNs. Obviously I've issued lots of these in my time as a Special but it's a bit scary to realise that I should have been reporting people every time!

Fortunately we get to spend a fair amount of time out in the fresh air doing traffic practicals - I manage to land the job of a role player again and get issued a stack of HO/RTIs and FPNs... going to cost me a bleedin' fortune!! :lol:

Towards the end of the week we have another file to submit, this time for a traffic offence. There's a real effort by our entire class to get these right so hopefully most if not everyone will get a "sufficient to proceed" mark this time!

As well as PE this week also sees our first two "PSP" sessions. This is where we start to learn the conflict resolution model, as well as various open hand techniques including the escort position, various holds, tatical communications and the like. I did a "boxercise" training session early in the week and was aching like nobody's business - so the PSP session last thing on Friday was just what I needed - my arms shoved up behind my back, wrist locks, you name it - ouch!!!

We also said goodbye to one of our trainers who is moving on to Ryton PTC to teach for a while. If you're there and get Staff ATKINSON then you're in for a treat, he's a superb trainer (and no I am not just saying that cos he might read this!). Our class bought him a bottle of something, er "medicinal" and a copy of Butterworths Police Law as a leaving pressie. He got very emotional! We will miss him.

Next week we finally complete traffic early in the week and then its onto PEACE interviewing techniques, which should be a bit more interesting I hope :whistle:

#14 Lord Vader

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 10:01 PM

Stage 2 / Week 7 - 22nd Mar

We turn up bright, keen and early at 0830 hours in the gym, ready for our P.E. lesson. The trainer comes and tells us our lesson has been cancelled because we have extra classes to make up for the time we'll lose on the forthcoming bank holiday weekend. No sooner am I changed into uniform and on my way to class, when I get the message that we are now doing a Fitech (fitness test)! So it's back to the room (muttering under my breath), back into gym kit and back to the gym - strange morning!

The Fitech goes OK, possibly because I haven't had any time to worry about it! I manage Level 9, Shuttle 2 on the beep test (one shuttle better than week 2 :)) and a rather measly 23 press ups and 25 sit-ups. Well I never said I was an athlete :D Soon as we're done on that it's shower, back into uniform and back in the class.

I hear a rumour from the senior class that we're parading on Friday morning. I ask our drill leader but he's heard nothing. I make enquiries with our trainers, but they don't know anything about it. Hmmmm....

We meet our new trainer, an ex-Met officer with 26 years experience. It'll take us some time to settle into each others' ways - unfortunately we only have him for the next 4 weeks so as soon as we're settled he'll be off... well I guess it's good preparation for being on division where sergeants, inspectors etc. seem to change around quite regularly!

Tuesday finds us back in the gym for more PSP (I found out it stands for "Personal Safety Package"... I think ;)) Anyway it's our chance to get physical with our colleagues, learning and practising a whole range of holds, locks, etc. and finishing by taking each other "wuffly to the floor", as it were. I end the 2 hour session sweaty and sore. Stop sniggering at the back :grin:

Some more rumours about parade on Friday. But our trainers are adamant that there's no parade. Tsk, rumours eh :whistle:

This week we've started on interviewing using the "PEACE" model. We have a couple of pretty heavy theory lessons, teaching us about the model, and then finally we watch a scenario on video, and get into some interview preparation.

All of Thursday is spent in the video interview suite (see my gallery) first being interviewed as a witness to the scenario we saw, then acting as the officer. I found the interview pretty easy but only because I've done lots of them before as a Special. It seemed to go quite well... with the small but possibly important error of being so engrossed in getting my 10-point ID and ADVOKA right, I forgot to ask the witness about how the offence actually happened... ho hum ;)

At the end of the day I take one last chance to scotch these annoying yet persistent rumours about us having parade in the morning. I ask the drill instructor in front of both trainers and the entire class whether we have parade first thing Friday morning. The answer is a definite "NO". So that's alright then.

On my way to breakfast Friday morning I'm told that we're due on parade in 15 minutes ;) It's back to the room, a quick change into No.1 uniform, and back to the parade ground, hungry because there was no time for tea and toast (oh it's a tough life ;)). The senior and intermediate course (that's us) are parading to show the junior course how it's done. Oh dear, talk about the blind leading the blind! Anyway it goes off alright and the 45 minutes standing in the cold is character building :happy:

Just as we're headed back to the classroom one of the other trainers says, "haven't you got photos now?" And it turns out we're expected up at the big house for the official course photographs and portraits! So that's another 45 minutes standing in the cold while all the photos are taken. Hey ho, expect the unexpected they said...!

Finally, warmed up and back in the classroom we are greeted by the return of our traffic process files from the file checking guru. Mine was marked "sufficient to proceed" - hurrah! Only just though, two "little e" errors - three or more and it's a dreaded "insufficient to proceed". Close call! The majority of the class did OK, and those who didn't only tripped up on really minor things. Next time a perfect 100% pass rate!

Home for the weekend but I have a self-assessment to complete ready for my tutorial on Monday morning. Then we're in week 8 - more than halfway through the course, what a scary thought!

#15 Lord Vader

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 05:20 PM

Stage 2 / Week 8 - 29 Mar

We start the week with individual tutorials with our trainer. Seems like everyone comes out with at least 2 action plans to go into their PDP! The PDP is a funny thing, vital during our probation because it's the evidence we need to get confirmed in post. But at training school, you do seem to find every entry starting "role play" :whistle: and after a while it seems a bit artificial. But it's all good practice I suppose!

Next we're off to the interview suite where we look at the machine used to tape record interviews. Although it's a familiarisation session, there's not a huge amount to get familiar with - it's a machine which takes two tapes, press the "record" button to record, and the "stop" button to... go on, guess ;)

After the PM tea break it's off to a quick and sweaty PE session before another rapid change and back into class for discussions about the solicitor's role in interview. A busy Monday!

The bulk of the rest of the week is taken up with two main parts - PSP and interviews. In PSP we practice more holds and take downs and then finally get started with our cuffs.

For the interviews we're split into groups and shown a short video setting the scene for a particular scenario. I get two - I'm the officer interviewing a shoplifter, and a the second interviewer for a burglary suspect. We spend time planning our interviews using the "PEACE" model then its into that little room. Everyone has a go, with the rest of the class watching over the video link (as shown in the pics in my gallery). Our interviews go OK, some people have very difficult suspects who either go "no comment" or who are just plain difficult.

We round off the week with a first look at assaults. I'm surprised to learn that what most people think of as an assault - a punch on the nose, for example - is in fact a battery. An assault is simply putting someone in fear of being subject to such a battery. Lucky I approached this foundation training with an open mind eh!!

Next week with interviewing receeding in the rear view mirror we've got yet more PSP sessions to look forward to as well as having to prepare a file for a racist incident. And the best news is it's a short week, with a long weekend to boot :)

#16 Lord Vader

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 05:33 PM

Stage 2 / Week 9 - 5 Apr

We start the week with another PSP session, this time getting into depth on handcuffing techniques. The week includes two such sessions so it's sore wrists for a while!

We have some lessons on drunkeness and the (anti-)social effects of alcohol, and learn about our powers in relation to confiscation of alcohol.

It's also time (already!) for another file submission - this time relating to a racist incident. We take part in a brief role play which we then have to use as the basis for the file. It's an expedited file so there's not a huge amount to go in there, but as before we're all keen to try and make sure we get the coveted "sufficient to proceed" mark :) Mid-way through the week we get last week's witness statement back (from our interviews) - mine is graded sufficient so that's 3 out of 3 so far :whistle:

Thursday morning we get some input on giving evidence at court. We start off watching a video made for the Met which is really excellent, it explains lots of "do's and don'ts" and uses actual court transcripts to demonstrate how easily you can get yourself into a right state when giving evidence, if you don't follow the golden rules.

The final session of the week is our first lesson on first aid, which we will get assessed on in Week 11 or 12, I think. The afternoon is spent putting our colleagues in the recovery position and doing CPR on dummies. A gentle end to the week but we can't wait to get out at 1700 hours and off for our long weekend! The really good news is that next week the senior course pass out so again, we get the Friday off... which means a 3 day week ;)

#17 Lord Vader

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 09:47 PM

Stage 2 / Week 10 - 12 Apr

Monday off for Easter (got to get used to not automatically having bank holidays off!) and then it's back on Tuesday morning.

This is a bit of a strange week - for a start, it's short (we have Friday off because the senior class are passing out), secondly there's a real mix of topics on the timetable.

We kick off with Breach of the Peace (something that I never really understood when I was a Special, and as a result never arrested for in all my 11 years ;)) and good old Section 5 Public Order Act (POA). Fortunately my understanding of this "bread and butter" Friday night offence is pretty sound!

We have another PSP lesson (a reminder that this is short for "Personal Safety Package" and includes training on open hand skills, take downs, and cuffing techniques), this time with a different trainer. He has a unique line in warm-ups - at one point we are all prancing up and down the gym doing Eric Morecambe impressions :)

Over the next few lessons we tackle Sections 4 and 4A POA. Again while I had a fairly good understanding of S.4, 4A is a revelation to me - it's kind of a S.5 but with a bit more bite! In addition the whole confusion I used to have about using these offences in public / private / dwellings is finally cleared up for me - hurrah!

We spend a lesson learning about some of the rules regarding air weapons, and have a look at lots of guns. I'm not particularly interested in guns, but at least I know now what a shotgun, air rifle, air pistol, revolver, starting pistol etc etc look like now. We also cover officer safety with regard to firearms - in essence, don't touch unless you really, really have to. Personally I just think guns are scary and if anyone points any sort of gun at me, I'll run away :whistle:

One really fascinating subject we covered this week is the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997. This is a class piece of legislation, wish I'd known more about it when I was a Special, since it gives the police some excellent powers to deal with offences of harrassment.

It's during this session that I realise I am getting old - while relating a story about a harrassment case I attended once, I mentioned that the girl involved had "bonked" the boy. Now for someone of my generation, that's a light-hearted and inoffensive way of saying "had sex with". But most of the people in my class who are aged 30 or under found this highly amusing and took great delight in pointing out to me that it's a word that they'd expect to hear their dad using :D I did ask what the modern day equivalents are but they're all so crude or plain biological!!

Lessons on ASBOs (Anti-Social Behavioural Orders) and dealing with civil disputes follow. These are interesting and relatively short lessons and give us more 'tools in our toolkit' to deal with stuff once we get out on the mean streets.

Our racist incident files come back - I've got another "sufficient to proceed". That's four out of four :lol:

We top off the week with another four hour First Aid session, which completes our input on that topic. We talk about shock, traumas, burns, breaks and bleeding, and practice bandaging each other for a while (well when you're as old as me you have to get your fun where you can!!).

I have brought all my books home this weekend and will try to do some revision for our exam on Monday. I doubt I'll achieve anything like the 92% I got in the first exam since there is so much more to remember. But I'll give it my best shot, of course ;)

#18 Lord Vader

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 04:08 PM

Stage 2 / Week 11 - 19 Apr

Another week over - incredible to think we are just 4 weeks from the end of the course now :lol:

We start the week with our exam, bright and early at 0830. We have 70 questions to answer in one-and-a-half hours. Maybe it's just the time of day, maybe I'm feeling slow, but it turns out to be quite a tough exam. I had to really struggle to think through my definitions. Most of the questions were crime related although there was a fair few about traffic too. Most people seem to agree with me that it was a tough one...

Later in the day we have PE, which is quite good fun - some circuit training to get us sweating and relieve some of the stress of the exam.

This week is mostly about mopping up traffic topics - we deal with drink driving, the offences and the powers available to police officers. This includes a session whereby we learn how to use the various intoximeter machines (the roadside screening devices) and practice giving each other breath tests. There's a half bottle of sherry :D available to give the tests some realism... getting paid to drink, can't be bad eh?!

After lunch on Tuesday our exam results turned up - as already trailed I got 88% and of course I was delighted with that score. It's a bit less than last time but still in the top band. Not everyone in our class was as delighted with their result, so we all rallied round. However, our class was once again the top class out of all 11 in the Ashford estate (i.e. Ashford PTC plus Bramshill PTC where I am)... result!!!

The next day we're out and about doing drink/drive practicals, stopping our trainers and breathalysing them ;) - see photos in the gallery. This 'arrest' forms the basis of the next traffic expedited file which is due in this week.

Several lunchtimes this week are taken up with drill practice. Our passing out ceremony is now just a few weeks away and we're required to march in front of all the dignatories as well as our friends, families and other VIPs. Since most of us have never done drill before joining the job, we need all the practice we can get!

After drink/driving we move onto RTCs (road traffic collisions - ACPO has discouraged the use of 'accident' since such incidents are always someone's fault). When I was a Special I used to love attending and dealing with RTCs - no not because I'm some sort of ghoul, but because they were always challenging and, on the whole, pretty straightforward to deal with.

This week's PSP session covers where we get our powers to use force from - S.3 Criminal Law Act, S.117 PACE and common law. To help us study these, we watch a shocking video where a police officer in Northern Ireland uses force on a person, causing his almost immediate death :whistle: Pretty emotive stuff and it really helps us think about our use of force. Turned out the officer was acquitted of manslaughter by the way. Let's hope I never end up in court having to justify use of lethal force :lol:

Having learned the theory for RTCs we're then out and about doing RTC practicals. Again I've put a photo of this in the gallery. After viewing this (only a few officers actually dealt with it) we're required to fill in an accident report book, including a detailed sketch complete with triangulation measurements... blimey, this police work even involves maths ;)

We round the week off with a 20 question knowledge check of all we've learned this week, as well as looking at how to deal with illnesses in the street - and not necessarily the alcohol induced sort which involve people throwing up :lol:

Friday morning we are out at 0830 hours in the bright sunshine :) for parade. Our class looks pretty well turned out but as a course we still have a way to go before we're quite as ship-shape as our trainers would like. After parade our class spends another hour practising marching and general drill until we're all hot and sweaty... well I suppose it means I don't have to go for a run later :lol:

Back on Monday for week 12 - incredible how quickly the time is flying by!

#19 Lord Vader

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Posted 01 May 2004 - 10:37 AM

Stage 2 / Week 12 - 26 Apr

Monday is great - warm and sunny. Walking to breakfast in shirt sleeves with a warm breeze blowing... lovely. We have a morning lesson on mental health, followed by the rest of the day doing public order / drunkeness practicals out in the sunshine. We have a PE lesson too, which ends up out on the cricket field. Today is one of those days when I thought with pity of all my ex-colleagues stuck in a huge air-conditioned office in Swindon. I bet they haven't even been outside. Glad I am not an office worker any more :happy:

Wednesday morning we have our first aid exam - we have to deal with three different scenarios which are assessed by St John's Ambulance staff. I walk into one room and the assessor says, "Hello, I'm Bob and he's dead", pointing at a prone body on the floor... "Dead?!" says I, "in that case there's nothing I can do for him!"... "No," replies the assessor, "he's TED. His name is Ted". Oooops ;) ;) Anyway despite this and the fact that one of my casualties slipped into unconsciousness due to a lack of elevation of the bleeding limb, I pass the exam :)

This week sees one of the occasional mid-week events - a Salsa night! Although I didn't go, I wish I had done -- I nipped into the bar for a quick pint with some friends and the dancing looked fantastic! Maybe next time... ;)

Our soon to be departing trainer (he has only been with us a couple of weeks, there's quite a lot of turnover at the moment as foundation training is coming to an end at Bramshill) gives us a morning's input on intelligence gathering and use - including the lovely 5x5x5 forms.

We also tackle missing persons - the reasons why people disappear, and the police procedures for dealing with such reports.

Late in the week we receive our exam breakdown - each question hits one of the learning objectives. The breakdown doesn't show you the questions, but does show you how you performed against the objectives. I think this is because Centrex re-uses the questions for future exams. Anyway I got 7 out of 60 wrong, including once again the bloody theft question!!! :whistle: :D

Our PSP session is hailed as a mock assessment - our proper assessment being next week. All goes OK during the cuffing techniques, but when it comes to the take-downs, I suddenly get a complete blank. It's been about 5 weeks since we learned this stuff and I have, quite simply, forgotten ;) The trainer cancels the mock assessment and we go back into training mode. During this, it turns out that we haven't yet been taught three required techniques... As a result of these issues, our exam is put back to the end of next week. I'm starting to get very worried about PSP and whether I'll pass it or not ;) - a blight on an otherwise good week.

We end the week with a long input on indecency offences. This is a very serious topic which doesn't perhaps always get treated with the seriousness it deserves - not just by police, but by society in general. The current legislation is a mish-mash of a number of laws, some of them going back to the mid 1800's. The Sexual Offences Act 2003, which is coming into force as we speak, will clarify and update most of these and similar offences. Unfortunately we are taught and tested on the existing law - however in-force training will update us once the new Act is fully in force.

Parade on Friday is cancelled due to the fact it's raining. We should have time for plenty of practice in the next few weeks as there's time on the schedule. For the passing out proper, we'll be doing it whatever the weather - here's to a warm end of May!

#20 Lord Vader

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 09:05 PM

Stage 2 / Week 13 - 3 May

The weeks are hurtling by now, especially since we have yet another short week with a bank holiday on the Monday - hurrah! :lol:

First thing Tuesday morning it's another PSP session - we spend the time practising ready for the big assessment later in the week. After last week's worries I feel a bit better and just about ready for the exam.

We meet our new trainer this week, I think that's 5 we've had now! Must be something to do with our class, we just seem to break trainers pretty quickly :lol:

We spend a day looking at domestic violence - while we already know the offences that are commonly used to deal with "domestics" (assaults, affray, BoP, criminal damage, protection from harrassment) this lesson is mainly there to make us understand that domestic violence is a very nasty and very large problem in our country. Consider this: victims (usually women, but by no means exclusively) will suffer on average 35 violent attacks before calling the police. If we do not take that call seriously, treating it as "just another domestic", the victim may not call the police again for a long time - and we could have condemned them to a lot more of the same violence. It really made me think.

Wednesday night sees another charity quiz night - I am roped in to serve as a waiter :) Actually it's quite good fun, I get bought a couple of drinks and am in and out of the bar all night getting people's drinks for them! By the end of the evening I was tired out though, it's hard work being a waiter - it really makes you realise! My feet hurt :D

Thursday first thing we have P.E. and the trainer, knowing perhaps that some people may have over-indulged the night before (not me of course ;)) puts us through an absolute beasting ;) Some sort of martial arts / combat training stuff. Whatever, I was absolutely sha... really rather tired after it ;)

Later that day the PSP exam finally rolls around. All 18 of us are assessed through a series of different handcuffing techniques, takedowns and unarmed defence tactics. The assessment takes about an hour and a half. I make a mistake and the instructor tells me to re-do the particular move. I have to think really hard about what I'm doing wrong and the whole class is waiting for me... talk about pressure ;) Suddenly I realise what I'm doing wrong, re-do the move to the satisfaction of the assessor, and breathe a deep sigh of relief!! At the end all of us except one officer have been successful. While I am obviously very pleased to have passed, we're all a bit disappointed on behalf of the officer who failed ;)

For reasons that escape me, I have been put in charge of sorting out our class's attendance at the dining in night and pass out ceremony in a couple of weeks time. This basically entails distributing menus, getting cheques off people (we have to pay for our own nosh :whistle:) and submitting registration numbers of guests's cars to security. While reading all the information I am shocked to see that one person from each class has to make a speech :D I haven't volunteered... but then nor has anyone else... hmmmmmmmmm... :)

We get our 6th court file back and I am pleased to see it's another "sufficient to proceed" (i.e. a pass). We have just one more file to do - a full file upgrade, due in next week. We have a few hours during the week to do this work - I'm trying to be very careful and avoid making any schoolboy errors that could spoil my so far perfect record (on files at least!)

Friday morning dawns bright and warm and we're down on the parade ground for another inspection. In fact we spend the time practising some drill, which is just as nice in the sunshine :p After that we troop off to change out of #1 uniform then it's into the lecture theatre to watch some scary public order videos, before we're back on the parade ground to learn some basic PSU (Police Support Unit) techniques. This turns out to be an absolute blast :lol: All 50 plus officers from our course are there, formed up into 7 or 8 serials, doing stuff like open and closed cordons. For my sins, I'm playing the role of a PSU sergeant. If only!

It's a great way to end a great week. Only 2 weeks to go!!

#21 Lord Vader

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 06:56 PM

Stage 2 / Week 14 - 10 May

Monday dawns bright and early with a lesson on sudden death - way to kick the week off on a cheerful note! It's a fairly interesting input and the trainer relates a few stories of some of the less pleasant jobs he attended in his time as a copper. The lesson is topped off by a delightful video produced by Sussex Police in 1979 - basically a series of assorted murder and suicide scenes including one bloody awful one (literally) from the seafront at Hove. A guy decided to kill himself by - look away now if you are squeamish - cutting his own stomach open with a craft knife, pulling his intestines out and cutting them to pieces :) ;)

In the afternoon we do some final preparation for the Skills Development Exercises (SDEs) which we have on Tuesday. These are designed to assess our skills in the core policing areas - Professional & Ethical Standards, Communications, Self-Motivation and Decision Making.

Tuesday we're all down in the practical suite again (see pics in my gallery) for the SDEs. These are a bit like the carousels that are done in the initial assessments for police candidates - there's 5 'stations' (rooms), on the door of each is a brief explanation (e.g. "A fail to stop non-injury RTC happened in Sandford High Street 30 minutes ago. You have traced the owner to this address. Enter and deal with what you find".) and you have 5 minutes in the room. In most there's a role player (we had professional actors luvvie ;)) and an assessor. You have to use the entire 5 minutes... I ended up talking to one lady about the nice purple curtains in the room :whistle:. I think I did OK, the results are due next week.

Having completed the SDEs we have a quick lesson on dogs - the roles and responsibilities of the police when they're loose, dangerous etc. Not the most interesting of lessons although there was one gory pic of a poor boy who had been bitten in the head by a dog... not nice ;)

Next it's down to the gym for our final assessed fitness test. This is the complete test like we did back in week 2 - height, weight, lung capacity, body fat, pressups, situps and of course the dreaded 20m shuttle run :)

Despite 14 weeks of Bramshill catering (nothing much wrong with it, just lots of it!) my weight has stayed just about the same, but my body fat is down - woo hoo! What's more I did more pressups/situps than ever before and reached a personal all-time best on the shuttle run - level 9/6. So basically I improved in every single area except one... my height. Apparently I'm a whole centimetre shorter than I was when I started here... :D

Wednesday we're doing drugs... well not literally you understand, more like learning about them. As part of this we look at some "fake" drugs. I don't think they trust us with the real thing! We learn about the classifications and of course our powers - bizarrely though despite Cannabis having been reclassified as a class C drug, our notes (and therefore the exam) still list it as a class B substance. Ho hum...

For the last few lessons of the course we're all bundled together with the other 2 classes (that's 50 of us) in the lecture theatre to learn about "CHIS" (Covert Human Intelligence Sources - what else!), hi-tech crime and RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act).

Finally on Friday morning it's down to the parade ground - first we complete our public order training, learning more of the basic techniques for crowd control and the like. To introduce an element of excitement our trainer splits us into two PSUs and has us compete with each other to perform the best... modesty forbids me from saying if I was in the "winning" PSU or not ;)

After tea it's back on the parade ground (still in the warm sunshine, lovely) and we are put through our paces learning the drill we need for our passing out parade next week. Our class did quite a lot of drill in our own time earlier in the course, and while there was some moaning about it at the time, it's really helped us now. We spend nearly 2 hours drilling and by the end of it, I am tired and dusty! Next week we have parade every morning, with the formal passout parade on the Friday morning... I am really looking forward to it!

I'll be back on Monday for the final week, week 15. There's already a real sense of being "demob happy" now - the end of the course is in sight, the really hard work is behind us, and only the exam sits between us and the end of the course! While I have enjoyed my time at Bramshill enormously, I am ready to leave, ready to move onto the next stage of my career. But I will look back on my time here with great happiness.

#22 Lord Vader

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 01:11 PM

Stage 2 / Week 15 - 17 May

This is it - the last week! Monday through Thursday this week we have drill practice at 0830 hours every morning. Our parade leader, Staff THOMAS (see the gallery for a pic) has to knock all 50 of us into reasonable shape in time for Friday morning when we pass out in front of our friends and relatives.

There's very little classroom time this week, mostly it's given over to revision and self study. We did have one brief input on railways but that's about it. It gave us a chance though to say goodbye to our longest-serving trainer, Staff SHARP. Although he gained a reputation for not actually turning up very often, when he did he was always good value for money - we learned the subject and had a laugh at the same time ;)

Tuesday is marked "Community Involvement Day" on the schedule. This is where members of the public come and act as role players, to give us our first chance to deal with real people (rather than our trainers or colleagues). The members of the public range from some middle-aged people through to a group of 16 and 17 year olds - the latter group being very cock sure and a right handful! In the debrief afterwards it's quite interesting to hear what the youngsters have to say - "we see police as the enemy", and "half of you police are nonces" - all we can hope is that their time spent with us has maybe helped change their perception of the police, if only a little.

Wednesday is exam day - the morning is spent in the garden at Bramshill House soaking up the sun while revising - nice! The exam is straight after lunch - 120 questions in 2 and-a-half hours. It was a strange one - nothing on dogs and railways (we'd been told these subjects always come up :whistle:) and lots on army deserters and interference with motor vehicles ;)

The exam results arrive on Thursday lunchtime and I was absolutely thrilled to find out I'd scored 92% - what's more I'm top of the class. And the real icing on the cake is that our class - 9J - was top of all 11 classes yet again - that makes it three times out of three ;) Oh and what's more I finally got all the theft questions right - traditionally my weak point ;)

Wednesday evening, with the exam over, we're ready for a big night out. Lots of eating and drinking - I think I got to bed at about 0230 hours the following morning (a very late night for me!) and I did have a bit of a headache when I woke up! Unfortunately some people from other classes never made it to parade at 0830 hours... because it's a duty they will have been suitably chastised by the trainers for that!

Thursday night our partners arrive and we have the formal dining in - dinner, speeches and awards. Nobody is up for much of a late night after the excesses of the night before so it's a relatively early night.

Friday arrives and it's a bright but cool morning. We have our final rehearsals for the parade at 0900 hours in civvies then it's off to meet our guests and then into #1 uniform. At 1100 hours we form up, the music strikes up, and off we march! The parade went off like clockwork, and in a flash it was all over. There were some very emotional scenes as we all shook hands, hugged and wished each other good luck. And with that, it's all over... 15 weeks at Bramshill have come to an end. I feel really quite melancholic driving away for the last time* but I am looking forward enormously to the next stage of my career!

I will post further updates to the diary but they won't be weekly any more... watch this space :)

*this is overly dramatic. I am going back next week to play squash!

#23 Lord Vader

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 05:53 PM

Blimey, how the last 8 weeks have absolutely flown by!

I thought that this was probably a good moment to update my diary, because Monday morning I am finally starting on division as a real live copper dealing with real live members of the public ;)

So let me update you what's been happening - I guess most people leaving Police Training College (PTC) will have done something a little different, but my force is pioneering "streamed" intakes, hence the reason this period between ending PTC and starting duty is longer.

Week 1 after PTC
A week off! Much needed, a nice rest before starting the next phase of training. I spent it visiting friends and steam cleaning my carpets (don't ask :)).

Weeks 2 & 3 after PTC
It's off to one of our divisional police stations for our computer training - a 1 day input on our PC-based systems (basically how to browse the intranet, create documents and send emails) followed by a 6 day course on our crime information system. I have used both systems before as a Special, plus I spent 18 years in IT -- so I find the pace a little slow, to say the least!!

The computer stuff is followed by 1 day of training on our new Airwave radios.

We then have 2 days conflict refresher training - cuffs, baton and CS. We are all taken out to the tennis court for our CS exposure training, it's optional and having had a right faceful of the stuff at a job a few years ago, I initially decline but at the last minute decide, "what the hell", and give it a go. Luckily for me I hardly get any of the stuff, some of my colleagues aren't so lucky and cough and splutter for some time!

Weeks 4 and 5 after PTC
Back to HQ training school for a 2 week "law consolidation" course -- our entire intake is all back together, 23 officers (1 dropped out back in stage 2). We are split into 2 classes. It's useful although some of it is repetition from PTC. The trainers are teaching this input for the first time so the timetable does tend to be a bit changeable ;)

Weeks 6 and 7 after PTC
Now we are split into our "streams" - as a community officer I get different training from, say, the investigators. These two weeks are taken up with inputs from a range of people about topics as diverse as hi-tech crime, ASBOs, the youth offending team and mental health issues. We end the 2 weeks with a knowledge check - I score 86%, top of the course... what a swat!

Week 8 after PTC
The final week of training and it's something I've really been looking forward to - our driving course :lol: We start the week with a highway code exam (I get 96%, beginning to think I am a real swat :lol:) That afternoon it's off to a disused airfield for fun and games on the skid pan, what a laugh :D

Next day we are out in a fleet of white Mondeos to practice our driving. We are introduced to the police system of driving, based on Roadcraft - the police driving manual. It's tough to change the habit of 19 years driving, but its a good system which aims to remove the unpredictability from driving, and hence make it safer. We are continually assessed by our instructor, with 2 students in the car sharing the driving. We drive all over the place - down to the coast (Lee on Solent) for a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie!

On the Thursday we have a formal assessment by a different instructor, and find out at lunchtime how we've done -- of the 12 students, only 8 pass (including me, phew!). Then it's off to the airfield again to practice stopping vehicles.

The final day we are out on the public roads, practising stopping vehicles (not real members of the public, just another unmarked police car). After lunch we have to clean all the cars ("well, you got 'em dirty!") and then the course is topped off by a little ceremony where the students who passed get a certificate - great!

That's it for my training then - almost 6 months to the day since I joined. Obviously you are always learning and I guess the next major stage starts on Monday when I am off out with my tutor, policing for real on the streets. After so long in a training environment, I can't wait :whistle:

#24 Lord Vader

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Posted 28 July 2004 - 07:40 PM

Time for another quick update, I think... ;)

Well I have now been on our "street duties" unit for a week and a bit. The street duties unit is made up of tutor constables. I am paired up with another probationer and we are being very well looked after by a tutor.

The purpose of the 10 weeks we will spend with street duties is to give us exposure to a range of different policing tasks, and to achieve certain "competencies", or tasks. These are recorded and ticked off in our PDP as we go. We have well over 250 different competencies to work on - by the end of the 10 weeks we must have hit at least 80% of these. So it's a busy time!

The good thing about being a street duties unit is you can pick and choose your jobs. This allows us to get to all different types of jobs thus hitting those all important tasks.

On my first day I was absolutely nervous as hell. I guess it was that "new job" feeling - I never worked as a Special at the nick I'm at now, so I didn't know anyone and it's a bloody HUGE place... plus I was worrying if I'd still enjoy being out on the streets doing the police thing.

Fortunately I didn't have long to worry -- our first set of duties was half nights - 1900 to 0400. On the first time out we took a missing persons enquiry - a juvenile missing from home. When she finally turned up at home (as we expected she might) and we re-attended, it had turned into a domestic argument and I ended up nicking her father for assaulting her -- that was just 3 hours 40 minutes in! Not bad going :) I had to deal with the solicitor (doing disclosure for the first time ever was fun :whistle: ), interview and bail him.

Later that week we picked up a TWOC / TDA, a moped which had been nicked by two young lads. Again there was an arrest and interview, followed by charging him and preparing a court file.

In amongst all of this we've done a variety of little bits and pieces - a breath test procedure, a number of warrants, a summons, stop checks and assorted enquiries. All good fun ;)

So I am enjoying myself enormously and have pretty much got all my confidence back. There's still that scary feeling of being a regular now - at least when I was a Special I always felt I could ask a regular if I didn't know how to do something - now I am that regular! But the pace is just right and no-one expects you to know everything just yet -- it's been a pretty easy introduction to policing on division.

That's it for now - more to follow when I have more news :D

#25 Lord Vader

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Posted 22 January 2005 - 02:01 PM

Time to update my diary, I think -- considering my last update was 6 months ago! Unbelievable how quickly the time goes by :whistle:

I'm just coming up on my first anniversary of joining the job full-time. A whole year under my belt already. I can truly say the time has absolutely flown by, and I have no regrets - I have a great job.

My time on "street duties" (our tutor unit) was an absolute blast. I had a superb tutor and we got on like a house on fire. We attended all manner of jobs and undertook lots of different enquiries. We even had an insane drunk woman try to kill us with a huge piece of jagged glass. Which was nice :D

After 10 weeks on street duties I attained my independent patrol. This is dependent on completing all the necessary competencies in your PDP and getting a good report from your tutor. Once this is done your sergeant signs you off and the best news of all is you get a pay rise :)

On completing street duties I had a week or so off then joined my new team, a community-based "Borough Support Team" with a proactive role - basically going out there on active patrol, stop checking our local nominals and disrupting their nasty crime-ridden little lives ;) It's true to say I had a rocky start on that team - basically I fell out with the sergeant on day 1 ;) Mostly my fault - I probably needed taking down a peg or two and my first few days on team certainly did that. After a bruising start I got my act together, put my head down and really started working and from then on I haven't looked back.

The great thing about BST is we don't respond to jobs - while there is an exciting aspect to being first on scene at incidents the response team does spend a lot of time dealing with rubbish. Also we don't investigate crime, so we have no ongoing enquiries to take up our time. All our time on the street is spent finding people committing crime and arresting them. We also undertake warrants, and searches and participate in operations. On the whole it's great fun and I've had some good stops and arrests which has started to get my name known on division (especially in custody!).

Much as I enjoyed my time with BST, I have just started a new role reporting to the Chief Inspector and focussing on car crime. There's just two of us in the team, and our role is to pull all the various divisional resources (traffic, BST, response, intelligence etc) together to focus our resources where they'll nick most car criminals. It's quite a daunting job, there's loads to do however it has the potential to be very interesting and it'll help me mop up just about all the outstanding tasks in my PDP - always lurking in the background :lol: However the first few days have been spent in the office and I am absolutely desperate to get back out onto the streets!

That's about it - you're up to date. More soon (I'll try not to leave it six months!)

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