As Sussex Police complete its uplift of new officers funded by the national Government campaign, its latest recruits are tackling crime and supporting the force in its response to the pandemic. 

The 18 officers are some of the 129 additional officers the force recruited this financial year with the funding, as confirmed by figures published by the Home Office today (Thursday 28 January). 

Since heading out on the streets during the festive season, the force’s first ‘fast track detectives’ have been busy making arrests, protecting communities and supporting police operations during the Covid pandemic. 

They are amongst the first officers nationally to enter policing through a new two-year detective constable training programme for degree-holders that will help accelerate the development of specialist officers to meet the ever-evolving nature of 21st Century crime.

Before specialising, the new recruits are gaining a grounding as uniformed PCs in frontline response under the guidance of experienced coaches in the force’s six dedicated coaching units. Alongside them are fellow new officers on the police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA),

Just four weeks in, the new officers have attended a variety of incidents, including road traffic collisions, sudden deaths, domestic incidents and burglaries, as well as undertaking some high visibility Covid patrols. They have made their first arrests, including for drink-driving, drug-driving, assault and shop-lifting.

They have supported community investigation teams and police operations tackling knife crime and road traffic offences, as well as carrying out warranted searches of properties and persons and taking statements.

Adrian Rutherford, Director of Peoples Services at Sussex Police, said: “I am very impressed with the impact that these new officers and their colleagues on the PCDA have already made in their earliest days of operational policing.

“They have undertaken their intensive, initial training and joined our frontline at the height of the pandemic, yet have shown a proactive determination to make a positive difference to our communities and our policing teams in these most challenging times.

“I am very proud that Sussex, in partnership with the University of Cumbria, was amongst the first two forces nationally to launch the Detective Constable Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP). As crime and technology evolvespresenting new and ever more immediate threats to the public, we are investing in new ways to develop our investigatory capacity to keep meeting these challenges.

“As well as taking significant steps to develop police officers and staff into detective and investigative roles, this innovative route is helping to equip us with the specialist officers we need to identify and pursue criminals using cutting-edge technology, as well as traditional skills.

“I am delighted we have already reached our target of recruiting an extra 129 officers through the Government Uplift campaign by 30 March 2021. They, in addition to the extra 50 officers we have recruited through the rise in the local council tax precept in 2020, form part of the 291 officers  we are planning to recruit by the end of March, ensuring a net increase of 179 officers for this year.

“In the next financial year I can confirm we will be recruiting a further 121 police officers for Sussex through the national Uplift.”

“I am heartened by the great start all of these new officers have made, and I am confident they will continue making a positive difference to the people of Sussex beyond these difficult times.” 

PC Hannah Richards, who is training with the East Sussex Dedicated Coaching Unit (DCU) in Polegate, made her first arrest on her sixth shift after she, her coach PC Nick Funnell and fellow DC DHEP Nandi Luthuli responded to a 999 call and pursued a shoplifting suspect on foot. He was charged on suspicion of shoplifting and a further five charges for outstanding offences. Her handling of the case file earned her the praise of a supervisor in CID.

It gave me a confidence boost, and I was pleased to get my first one under my belt. It’s been a steep learning curve but I am enjoying it.

Hannah won a regional Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award for her devoted charity work to help prevent suicide and support those affected, after her own family experienced the shock of losing her brother to suicide three years ago. 

“Having been on the receiving end of bad news from police officers, I feel I can empathise and demonstrate a great deal of compassion to victims of crime and those who have experienced sudden loss,” said Hannah, who is from Bexhill.

“I spoke publicly about my brother’s suicide in the media to raise awareness and help create positive change. It was this desire make a difference and be there for others at their time of greatest need that motivated me to join the police.”

“It’s been a challenging time to join up but I want to help the community and support the vulnerable at this time. Even the smallest gestures can make a world of difference to someone at the moment.”

For Hannah’s colleague, PC Nandi Luthuli, working on missing persons cases has been the most rewarding: “Thankfully they have all resulted in the people being found. I got to speak to the missing people to offer any support and reunited them with their loved ones, who were so grateful.”

“I have always had a massive interest in crime, and studied criminology and was a claims fraud investigator for three years.

“I hope to be a positive role model for young people as from the age of five, I was a looked-after child under East Sussex Social Services. I hope I can demonstrate that regardless of the negative childhood experiences you may have dealt with, it should not define you or stop you achieving your goals.”

The officers will train alongside their coaches until they achieve independent patrol status after approximately 30 weeks. They will then gain further experience in response and also neighbourhood policing before they start to specialise in investigations, working towards a Diploma in Professional Policing Practice and accreditation as a detective constable over the course of two years.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I’m delighted that Sussex Police is leading the way in forward-thinking recruitment – being one of the first forces to offer this new entry route into policing is a huge achievement and the Force is to be commended for its progressive approach.

“Sussex Police is demonstrating how it is prepared to meet challenges head-on in the rapidly changing landscape of 21st century policing and I’m incredibly impressed with the impact that these officers have made in such a short space of time.

“Recruitment to Sussex Police has continued despite the Covid pandemic with a welcome determination from the Chief Constable to provide the extra boots on the ground and visible policing in our communities that residents have asked for.”

PC Lucy Thomas, who joined the Brighton and Hove DCU over the festive period, worked in intelligence as police staff before joining the DHEP. “I have always wanted to join up, and studied psychology at the Open University while working full time.”

“I am loving being in uniform but am looking forward to being able to see jobs right through to court as a detective constable.”

“I made my first arrest, which was for suspicion of ABH assault and damage to property, during one of my first night shifts. While attending the hospital with the detainee, we encountered an individual – who has since been jailed – assaulting an emergency worker. Other officers were on scene and my coach made the arrest.

“It’s been a challenging time to join, but rewarding. Receiving comments from members of the public thanking me for working through this tough time and appreciating what we do reminds me how special it is to be able to protect and help others.”