Police academy for Birmingham students
We developed and ran our first academy with a group of students from Birmingham.
We welcomed 10 students who had just completed year 10 in a local school to spend three days with us, providing them with a “behind the scenes” view of policing, creating the opportunity to hear from them on their perspectives on policing, facing facts and “myth busting” as well as wanting to improve our engagement with young people.
The students spent their first day at our headquarters in Birmingham “behind the line of duty”; they were given a real life scenario, (a tragic murder and attempted murder in Handsworth in 2015) to work through, putting themselves in the shoes of those who would have taken the call, responded to the scene, examined the scene, investigated the crime, arrested the offender and pursued the case through to a prosecution. Interspersed with their considerations, subject matter experts from each of the relevant WMP departments presented the facts on what actually took place with this case.
They heard the audio recording of two 999 calls relating to the incident, got to talk to a call handler, a response officer, forensics, homicide detectives, neighbourhood policing and corporate communications.
They learnt about the wide ranges of roles within our organisation and how each team deal with their respective areas of work.
The youngsters engaged really well and were amazed how much work – much of which is often behind the scenes – goes into cases like this.
At the end of the day, the youngsters watched a video from one of the murderers in the case. He was a schoolboy – just 15-years-old at the time. He worked with us from prison in 2019 to share his experience.
The group were shocked by his crime but fascinated by his candid account, having spent all day with people involved, they were fascinated to hear his account and warning to others about the dangers of carrying knives.
The second day was spent visiting our operations department, where they saw a wide range of operational policing functions – drones, operational support unit, firearms, the new force control room and they also got to meet some of our dogs!
Day three was back at Lloyd House where they got to meet Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine who participated with the students in the “stop and search” scenario and discussion. They then took part in interviews of officers “in the line of duty”. Facilitated by our corporate communications, the students were able to hear all about our officers’ backgrounds, the roles they have carried out, why they joined, their proudest moments, their worst moments, and they asked lots of really great questions themselves during some really great conversations with our amazing officers.
It was wrapped up with an energetic and highly competitive quiz on all they had learned during the three days and a “next steps” and feedback session which included cadets, other opportunities for engagement and how they can get involved in policing. It’s hoped we’ve inspired a few to consider a career with us later down the line!
Superintendent Maria Fox, who led the academy, said: “The students were a credit to their school and parents. We had such fun and they seemed really interested in the work we do. Many of them admitted at the end that they hadn’t really known what to expect and they thought it might be boring but that it had been anything but boring and many in the group said that they would now consider policing as a career in the future.
“It’s been great to spend time with these amazing young people and hear their views on us, how we speak to people, and how we address issues which affect young people.
“We recognise we have work to do and that’s what has been so great about this academy. We want to improve how we engage with young people and we hope they had a brilliant time getting a real look at the work we do. I’ll look forward to possibly meeting a few again if they take up any roles available to them now - or if they decide to join us in the future.”
We're now talking to other schools as we hope to run more academies in the future, the next one is planned for October.