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6th November 2015, 10:06am
Students start out on unique volunteering partnership with police
Volunteer students and diagnatories Community-focused students from the University of Lincoln, UK, have started out on a new volunteering pathway which could lead to a career in policing.

The undergraduates have joined a unique volunteer initiative set up by the University and Lincolnshire Police. The partnership is believed to be the first of its kind between an academic institution and a local constabulary in the UK.

The scheme, an extension of the existing Lincoln Award, is an initiative led by the University’s Careers and Employability team in partnership with the Students’ Union, which helps students to gain and improve employability skills. Students on the Lincoln Award are supported through this employability framework, to give them a competitive edge in the graduate labour market.

Under the new partnership with Lincolnshire Police, a group of 14 students will have a chance to become either a Volunteer Police Community Support Officer (VPCSO) or Drop-in Advice Centre worker, known as a Police Support Volunteer (PSV).

Mark Stow, Head of Careers and Employability at the University of Lincoln, said the scheme was an innovative development for students which would also forge community links in the city.

He added: “The Lincolnshire Police ‘Lincoln Award’ is an exciting opportunity for our students, many of whom have real aspirations to follow a profession with a Police Force.

“It is collaborative activities such as this which will both enhance the employability of our students whilst also supporting our local community and graduate retention.”

To become a VPCSO a commitment of 250 hours over two academic years is required. It is anticipated that the volunteers at the drop-in advice centre will each provide 100 hours of volunteering time over a year.

Lucy McMahon, a second year student at the University, who is originally from Leeds, is training to become a VPCSO because she wants to see if policing is a career for her.

She explained: “I enjoy meeting and helping people. The scheme also fits well with my degree in Psychology with Forensic Psychology. I have also done some work experience back home with the police before I came to the University.”

Matt Harrison, a second year student from Cambridge who is studying English, said he was first attracted to a career in policing after watching the Lincolnshire Constabulary on the Channel 5 programme Police Interceptors.

Matt, who will be among the students working at the drop-in advice centre, said: “That programme made me stop and think that I wanted to find out more about the police. I just wanted to get involved and to help out.”

Alan Hardwick, the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said he felt the student volunteers would help build positive relationships in the community.

Mr Hardwick said: “The volunteers will be able to engage with students very well – they are their peers and part of that community.

“All the volunteers are very special people as far as I’m concerned who have made a significant commitment to the Force and will prove their worth.”

To launch the initiative a special presentation was held at the University of Lincoln attended by the student volunteers alongside Professor Ieuan Owen, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, and Neil Rhodes, Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police.

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