A group of Coventry students will swap lectures for law and order after landing a year-long placement with West Midlands Police.

In a UK-first initiative, 12 undergraduates from Coventry University and Coventry University College will be sworn in as Special Constables and handed a gap-year working with the city’s police force.

The placement winners − selected from 64 students who expressed an interest − are set to join the force in September working with the busy St Michaels (city centre) and Hillfields Neighbourhood Police Teams.

They’ll be challenged to identify an area of police work they could potentially improve, streamline or remodel and present proposals to address the issue in a year-end thesis − with the force looking to implement feasible recommendations.

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is funding the project through his department’s Innovation Fund.

He said: “I am delighted to be funding this project that will harness the talents of some of our best young people…having 12 young and dynamic people on board will be a big boost to policing in Coventry. I am excited to hear their proposals for how we can continue to improve the way that we work.

“I look forward to welcoming these young people into the force and will be closely following their proposals for better working as they emerge through the year.”

Coventry Police Inspector Hasson Shigdar was on the interview panel. He said: “The students come from a variety of courses including policing, criminology, psychology, planning, law and geography…they all showed great enthusiasm during the selection process and I’m excited by the project.

“They will identify an issue on their neighbourhood linked to crime or disorder, research it and come up with a number of options to use a partnership approach to tackle it, cut crime and protect the public. They can develop their ideas further in their final academic year whilst still working on the same police team part time.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to develop their law, crime prevention and problem-solving experience within the community. And the thesis won’t just be a theoretical piece of work it’ll be a chance to genuinely contribute to policing in Coventry.”

Cllr Philip Townshend, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council and Chair of the Coventry Police & Crime Board instigated the scheme. He added: “This is a fantastic scheme and one that will really benefit the students and the city. Specials make a massive contribution to aid community relations in Coventry and I am delighted the undergraduates have been recruited. This is another great example of partnership working in the city.”

The students are expected to start a 16-week Special Constabulary training programme next month before starting the placement full-time in September.

Three of the 12 are studying a degree in policing at Coventry University College (CUC) − a subsidiary of Coventry University − which is aimed at those seeking a police career or serving officers looking to improve promotion prospects.

CUC is also approved by the College of Policing as a Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP) provider…a programme delivered by either serving or recently retired officers ranking from PC to Chief Inspector.

Sandrea Maynard, programme area leader for Law & Policing at CUC, said: “We are delighted to be partnering on this ground-breaking initiative that will enable our students to experience policing first-hand and give something back to the local community.

“As well as developing skills beyond the classroom to help with their career aspirations, they will have the opportunity to make a real contribution to policing in the city where they study and provide a visible and reassuring presence on the streets.”

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