Loren Sims, 32, from Eastbourne, already had four years under her belt at Sussex Police before starting her PCSO apprenticeship. She worked in the Contact Centre for four years but got a taste for the front-line.

She said: “The force has helped me with my confidence.

“My team are a family and when times get tough, we are there to pick each other up.”

Loren shared her story as part of National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February) and provide a further example of how policing is becoming more of a career choice for women.

Historically, a career in policing has not always been seen as a natural choice for women. Ten years ago, the gender balance of police officers was about three male officers to every female. However, now it is a 60/40 split, with the total number of female officers now exceeding 50,000 across England and Wales.

Adrian Rutherford, director of People Services at Sussex Police, said: “We want to ensure that there are no barriers to a successful and rewarding career in policing.

“Whether its young people starting out in the world of work or those in mid-career, apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn whilst you learn in a supportive and nurturing environment.”

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne added: “An apprenticeship is just one of many ways to become a police officer. The apprenticeship route allows Sussex Police to reach a greater pool of people, resulting in a more inclusive and diverse police force with officers rightly reflecting the communities they serve.

“Police apprentices benefit from in-depth classroom training and front-line experience. Together, with the dozens of new recruits joining Sussex Police in the coming months, they will become a valuable asset to the force and a very welcome additional visible presence to our neighbourhoods.”

Find out more about the PCSO apprenticeship programme at www.sussex.police.uk/police-forces/sussex-police/areas/careers/jobs/pcsos.