South Yorkshire Police chiefs are today expecting to be swamped with registrations of interest in 369 new police officer jobs, as the force launches one of its biggest recruitment drives for decades.
Bosses need to recruit new bobbies to replace those who have already retired or are set to leave after clocking up 30 years’ service.
To be more representative of the changing face of South Yorkshire, police chiefs are particularly keen to recruit more women, and both men and women from ethnic minorities.
Three of the six members of South Yorkshire Police’s senior command team, who hold the highest ranking positions in the force, are women, with Dawn Copley appointed as Deputy Chief Constable in September last year.
She began her career as a bobby on the beat in Lancashire in 1987, gradually rising up the ranks before being promoted to Assistant Chief Constable with Greater Manchester Police in 2010 before being lured to South Yorkshire to take up the police force’s second most senior post.
She oversees the force’s professional standards department, which holds officers to account, she monitors the performance of the force and heads up the external enquiries team working on legacy issues including the Hillsborough disaster and the child sexual exploitation scandal.
Superintendent Caroline Rollitt started her career in the army’s military police force, joined South Yorkshire Police three years later and has now served in the force for 21 years.
The working mum is in charge of joint specialist uniformed operations, which includes the force’s firearms unit, dog section, mounted section, roads policing and tactical support.
Starting out on the beat in Sheffield city centre, dealing with shoplifters and brawls outside bars and clubs, she also spent time in the undercover unit dealing with issues including prostitution.
Her rise up the ranks saw her become one of the force’s first female officers trained in public order tactics, putting her on the frontline with men who traditionally dealt with riots and large scale disorder then.
She is the force’s only specialist firearms commander and is counter terrorism trained.
Her expertise saw her handpicked to take control of the Queen’s safety during her visit to Sheffield last Easter.
She said nothing should hold women back in applying to become a police officer.
“The only barrier to women is women themselves,” she said.
“It’s a hard job there are no two ways about it, but if you want a job that’s exciting, never boring, then this is the job for you,” she said.
“There will be highs and lows - sometimes in the same day - but if you want a rewarding job then look into it.
“If you want to work 9-5 this isn’t for you, but it is if you want a career, something exciting and opportunities to take on different roles and specialities.”
Superintendent Natalie Shaw, who is responsible for the force’s protection of vulnerable people, also urges women to apply for the police posts.
She joined the force as an 18-year-old and spent three years on the beat in Sheffield city centre before moving to the city’s Wybourn estate as a patrol car bobby and then into CID, where she spent time in the auto crime team and worked on high profile investigations, including the murder of Doncaster teenager Casey Kearney, who was stabbed to death in Elmfield Park, Hyde Park, in February 2012.
She was also instrumental in pressing for the prosecution of two care assistants who mistreated severely disabled patients at the Solar Centre in St Catherine’s Hospital, Balby, Doncaster.
“When you join the police you join to help and protect people and when you get justice for victims, survivors and their families that makes it,” she said.
“I was recently contacted by a man who suffered horrendous abuse who thanked us for investigating and said that after 30 years he was finally able to try to rebuild his life.
“Another positive of joining the police is the variety of the job - you join as a beat officer and can then go into CID and specialisms such as firearms, surveillance, public protection and serious and organised crime, for example. The opportunities are endless.”
Deputy Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “I am delighted that South Yorkshire Police are launching our new recruitment campaign for police officers, and I encourage people from all of the county’s diverse communities to apply. I would especially like to encourage applicants from black and minority ethnic communities, so that we can better represent and reflect the society that we serve.
“Although there have been significant changes to policing over recent years, our core values and our commitment to serving the public remain the same; we are working hard to make South Yorkshire a safe place for people to live, learn and work.
“Policing offers a dynamic, varied and well respected career path. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become a police officer and to make a really positive difference to people’s lives then we would like to hear from you.
“Please note that registration is only open for the next three days so if this is the career for you, don’t hesitate.”
Those successful in applying for the posts will start between now and 2019.
The force had steadily cut its workforce over the last 10 years to cope with Government funding cuts.
It currently has around 2,400 bobbies.