THE first bobbies to be recruited by a police force for more than three years have hit the streets.
The 10 rookies joined the ranks of Durham Constabulary in February after bosses lifted a lengthy freeze on employing new officers.
Now, after 11 weeks of classroom-based training and practical, role-playing exercises, the five men and five women have been posted to their new roles in communities across County Durham.
The next 10 weeks will see them undertake normal policing duties under the guidance of an experienced officer – their “tutor constable” – before a final assessment to establish they are ready for independent patrol.
Eight of the group are former Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) with the exception of Chloe Pallas, 21, who was previously with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in Sunderland and will work in Peterlee, and Gareth French, a 26-year-old who used to be a service delivery manager for Fujitsu.
Pc French also served as a special constable in Durham for three years until 2010.
Also among the newcomers is Pc Simon Warriner, who will cover Chester-le-Street.
Pc Paul Coburn returned to his old PCSO patch in his new position when he took up a patrol in Durham’s Market Place with his tutor constable, Pc Dave Taylor.
Chief Constable Jon Stoddart also called by to check on one of his newest officers.
He said: “This is a really exciting time for the force and the first time in three years we have recruited officers.
“These individuals are joining a high-performing force and I am sure they will give excellent service to their communities.”
In March, 1,000 people responded to a recruitment drive and applied to join the force.
After an assessment process, nearly 200 people were chosen for a formal interview.
The first interviews were held recently at police headquarters and the successful candidates are expected to hear the good news in the next few days.
It is expected that 54 new police constables will be appointed to Durham Constabulary over the next 12 months, in three separate intakes.
Police Authority chairman Peter Thompson said: “This is great news for the public.
“Our ambition to reduce crime and serve communities remains undiminished.
“The public of County Durham and Darlington should feel happy about this news.”