University of Sunderland students become first police volunteers of their kind as part of unique collaboration
09 Jan | 10:18

A total of 27 students will work alongside officers in a range of areas behind the front-line to help them gain valuable employment experience.

A team of students are leaving the classroom behind to help protect the public – by becoming the first police volunteers of their kind.

The trailblazers from the University of Sunderland will work alongside Northumbria Police’s neighbourhood and community engagement teams as part of a unique collaboration between the Force and the Wearside institution.

Twenty-seven student volunteers, who are studying on various degree programmes, will enhance their skills and support community policing in Sunderland and South Tyneside as part of the exciting initiative.

The opportunity will see students working alongside officers in a range of areas behind the frontline, including assisting educational inputs in schools and the community, supporting the Force’s campaigns and helping to design and deliver new training packages.

Police have been working closely with the university’s Sunderland Futures team to create the specialist volunteering roles that can help students tap into their academic skills to assist officers – while gaining valuable employment experience.

Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that this project has got off the ground after some outstanding partnership working with the university’s Futures team.

“We are now looking forward to our trailblazers starting their roles in the coming weeks, and I have no doubt that the skills and knowledge they will bring will prove invaluable to our ongoing work across Sunderland and South Tyneside.

“Our various volunteers across the Force – from our Special Constables to Cadets and Mini Police – all have been and continue to be a valuable asset in supporting operational policing and help us to engage with the wider community in a number of ways.

“We are convinced that this exciting new partnership with the University of Sunderland will be equally as rewarding for the students involved, the Force as a whole and the communities we serve.”

More than 150 students looking to gain experience in four key areas – research and CCTV, education and marketing, technology and data analysis, and health and sports sciences – initially registered their interest in becoming police volunteers.

They were then put through their paces during the recruitment process, which included a speed interview held on the university’s City Campus.

Students were then invited to attend a familiarisation visit at Millbank Police Station, in South Shields, where they took part in a table-top exercise and were given a behind-the-scenes tour.

Sue Mulley, head of careers and employability at Sunderland Futures, said “Policing and criminal justice offer a huge variety of career opportunities for our students and graduates in lots of different areas outside the traditional role of a police officer.”

“The interest we’ve had from students in this volunteering opportunity at our Student Opportunities Fair and ‘Spotlight On…’ events shows there is a genuine interest among our students to give something back to their community through policing.”

The students are set to take up their various roles within the next few weeks.

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