A group of former special constables who have been fast-tracked to become regular officers amidst the coronavirus pandemic, will be walking the county's streets from next week and helping keep people safe.
So much has happened since March (when they started their training) and everything we once knew seems to be changing by the day. New challenges, new uncertainties, new worries for everyone, and for these new police officers, new ways of learning and exams on top of everything. So, we think they've done pretty well so far.
The new recruits missed out on their planned attestation ceremony with family and friends, with graduation being held in private and everyone kept two metres apart due to the national Covid-19 lockdown. A Derbyshire magistrate was brought in during the first week of training for attesting them.
Despite the challenging times, Derbyshire continues to train new police officers. We've started seeing the first-wave of officers come through training, after the Prime Minister pledged to recruit 20,000 police officers across England and Wales. This group was trained by Constable Jane Clemson-Blythe and Constable Darren MacDonald.
PC Clemson-Blythe said: "Both of the courses starting in March were amalgamated and split into two based on their experiences. The former specials from each group have had a shortened course and are due to leave us to go out on section with a view to returning at some point in the future.
"It has been difficult circumstances for them, they have had to work extremely hard, occasionally from home."
Assistant Chief Constable Kem Mehmet met up with the students on the final day of their course (Thursday 7 May). He said: "Due to the current restrictions, these recruits have not had the send-off into their new careers that they deserve. I want to welcome each and every one to the police family. This has not been an easy time for them.
"I'd also like to thank the family and friends of the cohort, who sadly couldn't be here to witness the event. I'm sure they will understand why they couldn't be present, but I can assure you that you would have been as proud of them as I am.
"And a thank you from me to the recruitment team and training staff who have done a great job in very challenging circumstances and also taken photos in the absence of a photographer!"
Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It’s really encouraging to see these experienced volunteers joining the force as regular police officers. I’m grateful for the time they have spent as volunteers and of course the training and experience they received during their time as a special constable has reduced the time necessary to see them out on the streets as regular officers.
“In welcoming them to Derbyshire Constabulary I wish them every success in what I hope will be a long and rewarding career for each of them. I am really pleased to see that recruitment is still ahead of schedule despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
We know these new recruits are a resilient bunch and that better times lie ahead for us all. Stay safe out there.