THE first wave of entrants via the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) have been welcomed by Dorset Police.

University fees will be covered by the force and trainees are paid police officers from day one.

The course, which can eventually lead to a degree in professional police practice, is being run in conjunction with the University of South Wales.

Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Julie Fielding said: "I am delighted to welcome the first ever Dorset Police degree apprentices to join the Dorset Police family.

“The PCDA is the perfect opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ and will give you all of the tools to deal with increasingly sophisticated criminal activity.

“We are looking for a broad range of people, who can make a real difference to the diverse communities we serve in Dorset, and become positive role models in our society."

The degree course provides a route into policing for those who do not possess a degree-level qualification.

After approximately 34 weeks of initial training and one-to-one tutoring new recruits will reach independent patrol status.

They will then go on to complete on the job learning leading to a degree at the end of the three years.

ACC Fielding said: "Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is vital to meet our policing vision for the future. As policing grows more complex and demands on our services increase we need people with the right skills and experiences to meet these challenging requirements.

"We strive to create this environment where everyone is valued for their unique contribution."

Meanwhile, Professor Peter Vaughan, University of South Wales, said: “It’s great to welcome the first group of officers into Dorset Police, who will be completing the PCDA with us.

"The degree will be delivered locally by experienced professionals in partnership with the police force.

"We are working together to enhance the various entry options available into the police, in line with the policing education qualification framework."