PICTURES: Proud day for student officers at Lincolnshire's new police training centre in Skegness

A celebration size box of 'Heroes' is left on a desk in one of the training rooms as the latest cohort of Lincolnshire Police student officers prepare for their passing out ceremony.

Chief Constable Chris Haward  congratulates the new recruits.
Chief Constable Chris Haward congratulates the new recruits.

It's five months since the 20 recruits arrived at the new Arthur Troop Training and Conference Centre in Skegness and, with an inspection by the Chief Constable looming, chocolate is a welcome boost to help them through the day.

The £2.4million training centre was officially opened in a private ceremony in December by Princess Anne - the Patron of The International Police Association, which was celebrating its 70th anniversary and its association with founder Arthur Troop, who served as a sergeant in Skegness from 1948 - 1956.

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However, today, all eyes are on the new recruits who are outside in the car park, standing to attention in the afternoon sunshine after successfully completing their training in the classroom.

PCC Marc Jones outside the new Arthur Troop Training and Conference Centre in Skegness.

Looking smart in their uniforms, their shoes shining, they are keen to tell the Chief Constable they are ready and eager to start the next stage of their two-year probation as student officers out on the beat with their 'tutor'.

The passing out ceremony took place on Wednesday. Chief Constable Chris Haward took time to congratulate each one, with the Police and Skills Training manager Cheryl Ransome proudly watching on, along with Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Marc Jones and Chris Baron, vice-chairman of the Town Deal.

"It's been fantastic to see another new cohort coming through," Chief Con Haward said afterwards.

"If we didn't have this facility we would only be able to see one cohort coming through in the county at a time at headquarters and we would not be able to achieve the government schedule for recruiting more officers.

Standing to attention - new recruits with Chief Constable Chris Haward.

"In the past we have really struggled to recruit to the east coast and having this modern training centre makes a huge difference.

"It's important to show that Lincolnshire Police are committed to the east coast. This is a real statement of intent."

Many will remember the building as the former Skegness Magistrates' Court which adjoins Skegness Police Station and its transformation into a modern centre for learning was made viable by a £1million contribution by the Town Deal, which is investing nearly £50 million in projects along the coast at Mablethorpe and Skegness.

Lincolnshire Police made the decision to buy the location primarily for security reasons with its close connection to the police station.

New recruits are congratulated by Chief Constable Chris Haward.

The PCC and Lincolnshire Police identified that renovating the building to a high standard would be of benefit to the East Coast, providing opportunity and a modern learning environment for all delegates.

Supporting the viability of the training centre is the Probation Service, which is also based there and the close proximity to the police station is an important contributor to its success so far.

Police and Skills Training manager Cheryl Ransome explained that as well as Initial Police Training, the centre delivers Personal Safety Training, Domestic Abuse Matters, Leadership Courses and First Aid, as well as Driver Training when there is a predominate East Coast cohort.

It has been designed to be multifunctional to enable an East Coast facility for meetings, conferences and training events.

Police and Skills Training manager Cheryl Ransome took Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Marc Jones and Chris Baron, vice-chairman of the Town Deal, on a tour of the new training centre ahead of the passing out ceremony.

Facilities include five classrooms, a gym, showers, kitchen and areas for break-out group sessions, joined by a maze of corridors.

A former court room doubles as a conference space and area for personal safety training.

"It is great to have this centre," said Cheryl. "When I first joined there was training in Bourne for the south of the county, Boston for the east and at Lincoln Headquarters.

"Being next to the police station in Skegness is really beneficial to the student officers - to have that connection to the job they will be doing - and now the Covid restrictions are being lifted we are hoping we can get out into the community which is an important part of training."

There will be a full cohort of Student Officers operating from the Centre until October 2022 to meet government requirements.

However, future changes in recruitment requirements are set to make getting more officers on the beat in Lincolnshire, which is what the public wants to see, a massive challenge in spite of the additional training centre.

As well as training rooms the new facility includes areas for break-out group sessions.

PCC Marc Jones said currently there are 1187 new officers in the county and Lincolnshire Police is getting close to the 1200 mark, having been faced with dropping down to 1020 before receiving additional funding through the government police uplift programme to boost frontline officer numbers.

The new recruitment has enabled the force to push ahead with plans, to create new rural crime, roads and violence reduction teams in the county.

But Mr Jones says Lincolnshire Police the underlying underfunding of Lincolnshire needed to be addressed to prevent the progress from being eroded.

"This is a lot different to where we feared we would be two years ago so we have made huge strides," he said.

"Being able to recruit people from the east for the east is a really important in giving confidence to the public in policing it's great to have been able to do that.

"We are recruiting more than every from this side of the county which is great but we are still trying to reach our very challenging targets so we are taking people from across the county.

"We have training going on at Lincoln at Police Headquarters as well as here and obviously were are trying to train those who are going to be deployed in the east here so they can become familiar with the area.

"But it's still sometimes a challenge because some training has to be done at headquarters.

"At the moment the probationary period is two years but what we are seeing is the mandatory change having degrees in policing which will increase training from two years to three unless they can be recruited with a degree that can be converted into a policing qualification.

"The additional officers on the street will be offset by additional classroom training time so we might not see the full benefit of having the extra officers but it does mean we will be able to maintain those we have got.

"It's also about bringing in Special Constables - we need time and space to train them - and be able to grow that policing family to protect the public."

From the Town Deal investment point of view, the provision of opportunities and skills training, an empty building brought back to use and seeing students - some from as far away as Grantham and Bourne as well as Boston and Skegness on this occasion - coming to the coast and using local hospitality and facilities played a big part in the Connected Coast board signing off the project.

The first of many high profile Town Deal projects along the coast to be fully operational, the passing out ceremony was also a proud day for the Connected Coast board vice-chairman Chris Baron.

East Lindsey District Council formed the Connected Coast board in 2020 to put forward ambitious projects to the government aimed at creating a more attractive place to live, work and play, and to boost the local economy. It successfully attained £48.4 million for Mablethorpe and Skegness, plus more than £30 million from local and national organisations and businesses to invest along the coast.

Between April 23, 2022 and March 24, 2023 Connected Coast hopes to spend around £18 million on Mablethorpe and £15 million on Skegness.

The former director at Butlins in Skegness toured the centre ahead of the passing out ceremony to see how the Town Deal's £1m investment had been spent and said he was very impressed.

"When the board discussed projects it met our skills agenda in the town," he said. "Opportunities like this provide more aspirations for our children so we don't lose them as we have in the past.

"We also don't want to see redundant buildings and this project with its links to Arthur Troop has protected part of the town's heritage," he said.

"We also didn't want to lose the parole service because that would mean we would be losing jobs from the town.

"We are of course delighted that some of the students will be using local hospitality while they are here.

"Investment like this helps us when we are seeking further funding to deliver more projects - success breeds success.

"We are very excited about the projects that are currently being signed off and we will soon be revealing more about these.

"In my career I can't ever remember there being £80 million, including private-sector funding, being invested in the coast.

"It's a very exciting time."

PCC Marc Jones next to a picture of the Patron of The International Police Association, Princess Anne, and the plaque which celebrates her opening the new training centre.
A former court room has been turned into a conferencing facility that can be cleared for personal safety training.
One of the new training rooms ready for the next cohort.
Police and Skills Training manager Cheryl Ransome chats to Chris Baron, vice-chairman of the Town Deal, about the new centre.
Founder of The International Police Association Arthur Troop served as a sergeant in Skegness from 1948 - 1956.
A plaque outside the new Lincolnshire Police training centre in Skegness celebrating the 70th anniversary of The International Police Association and its association with founder Arthur Troop, who served as a sergeant in Skegness from 1948 - 1956. The new centre is named after him.