Thames Valley Police celebrates apprenticeship milestone

Thames Valley Police celebrates apprenticeship milestone

Thames Valley Police (TVP) has reached an important milestone with the successful completion of its 200th emergency contact handler apprenticeship.

Thames Valley Police began recruiting emergency contact handler apprentices in 2018 to grow its workforce, widen participation across the community and provide a professional qualification for call handlers. Working out of Thames Valley Police’s Kidlington headquarters, Abingdon and Milton Keynes, emergency contact handlers field up to two and a half thousand 999 and 101 calls from the public, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All trainee Emergency Contact Management Centre officers (999/101 call handlers) and trainee Police Controllers receive a high standard of training throughout their careers and as part of their initial development, everyone is accredited with a Level 3 emergency service contact handler apprenticeship.

Thomas Boyd, Resourcing and Performance Operations Manager said: “The apprenticeship scheme has really helped us put some formal qualifications in place for our operators. They all do an extremely challenging job and it is great that is recognised in the form of this scheme.”

Apprentice Robb Costello, who was working in the construction industry before joining the service in 2020, decided to enrol on the apprenticeship scheme to make a difference to their community. He said: “As an emergency contact handler, we’re the first port of call for members of the public when they are in danger or distress. To go to work and help people every day is incredibly rewarding.”

Christine Kirby is TVP’s Director of People. Having launched the careers of hundreds of emergency contact handlers, Christine said: “The apprenticeship model is perfect for putting trainees through their paces so that they are ready for the rigours of the job.

“An apprenticeship is designed to enable learners to hit the ground running once they enter their chosen careers. Staff in the contact centre need to be well trained and keep calm under pressure and apprenticeships offer an ideal way into the profession due to the blend of classroom learning and hands on training.”

Kit Salt, Head of End Point Assessment at SFJ Awards – the organisation that assesses the skills and competencies of apprentices at the end of their programme – agrees. She commented: “The role of an emergency contact handler is a pressured one, and with such responsibility it is vital to ensure that recruits undergo rigorous training before interacting with first responders and the public. This apprenticeship offers apprentices the perfect blend of classroom learning and hands-on experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and behaviours to perform the role effectively. Moreover, the apprenticeship programme has enabled Thames Valley Police to grow their workforce and add capacity effectively and I congratulate them on reaching this milestone.”

The Level 3 Certificate in Emergency Services Contact Handling apprenticeship is aimed at learners new to the contact handler role. What’s more, anyone can apply, whether you’re a school leaver or changing career.

To anyone thinking of following in footsteps of TVP’s 200 apprentice emergency contact handlers Katherine Bennett has this advice. “My apprenticeship has really helped me to build confidence in my abilities and accelerate my career. The opportunity to earn while you learn is great too, so to anyone considering an apprenticeship, my advice is this; just do it!”

Thames Valley Police are on the lookout for the listeners, supporters and the advisors, recruiting trainee Contact Management Centre officers (999/101 Call Handlers) and trainee Police Controllers who can be there when people need it most.

To find out more about a career in Contact Management at Thames Valley Police, click here.