Its campus is more used to hosting lessons on physics and politics than policing – but during the COVID-19 lockdown period, University of East Anglia (UEA) has stepped in to collaborate with Norfolk Constabulary and help provide crucial training facilities for the county’s police officers.
With the requirement to adhere to social distancing measures meaning their regular training site at OCC in Wymondham was at full capacity, Norfolk Constabulary had to rethink new ways of training new recruits and putting on regular training sessions for officers currently in force.
The need to deliver teaching and assessment online meant that UEA’s campus had additional space and many of its buildings could be put to other use. The University then formed an agreement with the Constabulary, which allowed the force to use the lecture theatre, seminar rooms and foyer area of the UEA’s four-storey Julian Study Centre building.
The collaboration began in early April and will continue up until September, by which time close to 1,000 hours of teaching of the new recruits will have been completed on UEA's campus.
In total, more than 80 new recruits have successfully passed through UEA campus and on to local police stations, ensuring that police presence during the pandemic has been unaffected and allowing the Constabulary to maintain the standards of their public service and meet Government increases in officer numbers.
UEA's security and cleaning staff assisted with ensuring the buildings remained clean on a daily basis to reduce the risk of coronavirus, and even assisted with role-playing training by playing civilians in exercises.
Norfolk Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable, Paul Sanford, put in the initial request to Professor Gerard Parr, Head of School of Computing Sciences at UEA, to use the facilities, as a member of the school’s Industrial Advisory Board. This request was then progressed to the Vice Chancellor’s Office where it was approved.
DCC Sanford said: “The Constabulary is extremely grateful to UEA Vice-Chancellor David Richardson and all staff at UEA for their generosity during the pandemic. The pandemic reiterated the importance of thinking of others as well as the role of key workers within our communities. Use of the campus has enabled our programmes to increase police officer numbers in Norfolk to continue putting extra officers out on the streets at this most crucial of times.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson said: “UEA has always had a role in the local community and this is just another example of how our students and staff have stepped forwards to help during this global pandemic.
“I’m proud that we are able to support Norfolk Police, who we have always maintained a good relationship with, and I would like to thank all the staff who have helped to make this happen.”
Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: "I am delighted to hear more than 80 new police recruits are now out and about patrolling their local communities thanks to the UEA offering crucial training facilities at such a vital time.
“This is a wonderful example of partnership working at its very best and I would like to extend my gratitude to all at the UEA for assisting the Constabulary in keeping our trainee officers safe so they in turn can help keep the wider Norfolk community safe.”
UEA’s modern facilities have also enabled Constabulary training staff to use the latest technology and test different facilities available at the campus, which has helped shape and inform the design and specification of their new Centre of Excellence at Hethersett Old Hall.
Head of Operational Training, Chief Inspector Keith Philpot, said: “UEA is an excellent teaching and learning centre, with modern facilities that have enabled us to remotely bring groups together as well as use the physical space available to achieve social distancing requirements.
“These experiences have been invaluable in helping police trainers understand a new approach to its training delivery and ensure that the designs and considerations for Hethersett Old Hall, reflect the lessons we have learned. The security team and wider colleagues were fantastic and particularly good in fixing any issues we faced. A really big thank you from us all for use of such a magnificent facility.”
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