Northumbria Police has taken on its first group of student volunteers after striking a unique collaboration with the University of Sunderland designed to enhance skills and support community policing.

The 27 trailblazers studying on various degree programmes will be working alongside officers from Northumbria’s Neighbourhood Engagement Team in four different areas; Research & CCTV, Education & Marketing, Technology & Data Analysis, and Health & Sports Sciences.

The opportunity will see students involved in a range of sectors 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.

The student volunteering opportunity is a collaboration between officers from Northumbria Police’s Southern Area Command and the University’s Sunderland Futures team. It’s been specially created to ensure the outcomes are mutually beneficial for all those selected students and officers involved.

Sunderland Futures staff worked closely with colleagues from Northumbria Police to understand how engaging with students could have a positive impact, tapping into their academic skills to assist officers while gaining valuable employment skills and experience.

Sue Mulley, Head of Careers & Employability / 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.”

More than 150 students, looking to gain practical experience, initially registered their interest and were 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 South Shields police station where they took part in a table-top exercise and were given a behind-the-scenes tour (pictured).

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.”

The initiative also represents the next phase of a developing partnership between Northumbria Police and the University, highlighted during a recent visit between the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Councillor Kim McGuinness. They were joined by colleagues from across the University who demonstrated to the PCC the extensive range of work being done by staff and students in the areas of policing and criminal justice.

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

To stay up to date with the progress of the student trailblazers follow @UoSFutures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.