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Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 5 July 2010 16:02 UK
Cambridgeshire police train for streets not office
By Jo Taylor
BBC Cambridgeshire

Jo Taylor fining a motorist
During role-play the driver is fined for not wearing a seatbelt

Paperwork was my downfall in training when I was invited to discover how Cambridgeshire police have tried to give the force a more human face.

For two years double the usual number of new recruits have been taken on but now the force is at full strength.

Next financial year £1.2 million will be cut from core funding.

PC Matt Goodenough assessed my potential:"The talking was excellent - obviously your strength there. Just more on the paperwork."

The classroom

The first step of officer training was classroom based, with students being taught the theory, before taking knowledge out into the field.

During the lesson on how to book a motorist not wearing a seatbelt, discussion focused on how to deal with angry drivers.

Fellow student PC James Thorne said: "It's all about explaining to people. People only get angry if they don't understand the process."

When it came to deciding whether to give a ticket in the first place, training officer, PC Matt Goodenough, said: "It's at your discretion, there's no easy way to teach you how to make a decision.

"How far have they come? Have they just pulled out of their driveway? If money gets taken from them they remember it a lot more."

Filling in the ticket for the offence appeared easy if long-winded. Details included name, address, licence plate number, an offence code and two ethnicity codes.

Role-play

The theory was put into practice using role-play because media members do not have police powers.

The woman taking part said she had only had her seatbelt off for a matter of minutes because she lived just around the corner from the shop she had come from. She received a £60 fixed penalty notice anyway.

When it came to filling in the ticket I was so preoccupied with putting down the right offence and ethnicity codes I forgot to say that the offence happened in Cambridge and did not ask the woman how to spell her first name. It meant the ticket would not stand up in court and the driver got off scot-free.

Police on the streets
Training is focused on giving police a 'human face'.

Recruitment drive

Cambridgeshire police have just ended a two year recruitment drive.

The new coalition government has announced budget cuts for police across the country - Cambridgeshire's force will get £1.2 million pounds less in core funding next financial year.

Despite some people saying they still do not see enough bobbies on the beat, Inspector Tony Hall, the officer in charge of the police training unit, said teaching now focuses more on street skills.

"The days of walking out of a police station and saying 'do I turn left, do I turn right' are long gone. Now we are very focused on the community issues and officers are directed to specific locations."

Lessons learnt

The verdict from training officer PC Matt Goodenough was that I was excellent at talking but needed to pay more attention to detail when filling out paperwork.

Complaints are often made about the police being too bureaucratic.

The lesson I learnt was that without efficient paperwork, personal skills are rendered useless.




SEE ALSO
Facing the Cuts in Cambridgeshire
01 Mar 10 |  People & Places
Cutting police budgets
02 Dec 09 |  Daily Politics


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