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DHEP recruit: ‘policing gives me a sense of purpose’

13 May 2020

Unlike many new policing recruits, Pete Bock had enjoyed more than just a taste of civvy street before being accepted into West Midlands Police.

The 26-year-old had worked in both retail and journalism and then settled as an English language teacher, only to decide that a career which served the public in a rather different way was where his future lay.

His most recent role was teaching academic skills at York University and providing supply teaching around York before he pursued an entry into the Force through the Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP).

It’s a way in for anyone with a degree in any subject and provides a work-based programme supported by off-the-job learning.

The DHEP route normally takes two years to complete and the learning undertaken while doing the course is recognised as a graduate diploma in professional policing practice at the end of a probation period.

As a new recruit from a non-policing family just settling into the job (he started on 5 March), we will be following Pete’s progress along the way.

Originating from York but with a degree from the University of Cambridge in Human Social and Political Science, Pete has already enjoyed feeling part of a family at West Midlands Police along with the 28 others in his cohort.

So, what was it that convinced a man who always wanted to be in the Army growing up, to change course and go through what he calls a ‘nine-month job application’ to become a police officer instead?

“When it came down to it, policing felt like a better fit for me,” said Pete. “I always want there to be that 999 response for my friends and family in case of emergency and, because of this, being a police officer has a really clear sense of purpose for me.

“I also think that, while no police force is perfect, in the UK we get a lot right in policing and the fact we remain a largely unarmed service shows a very positive attitude to how we carry out our public service. Firearms are used only when they are absolutely necessary.

“I knew I wanted to work in the West Midlands. I did not really think too much about the course I was on, the important bit to me was to be trained by West Midlands Police. Then I began to learn more about the DHEP option at the pre-enrolment evening.

“The application process was long, and I hope I never have to do a nine-month job application ever again.

“The vetting process took about four months first of all and I began to enjoy it once we started doing the role plays. The most challenging part of the process was waiting to find out if I had an offer. It puts you in a work limbo where you can’t take any other job offers that might be available because you know there is a chance you will get to be a police officer.

“In the end, it worked out for the best and the small pay cut I had to take from my previous job was negated by the job security and future pension benefits.”

Pete was only a few weeks into the job when it became clear that, as well as having to adapt to the changes of a brand-new career, he would also be facing the challenges of tackling the threat posed by COVID-19 on a personal basis.

“I am writing this on Day 1 of needing to self-isolate for 14 days after having some flu symptoms,” said Pete, “Luckily, it’s during the distance learning part of the programme but, in the current climate, even mild illnesses might lead me to being advised to stay at home rather than go in to work and nobody will thank me if I make a whole team ill.”

He added: “I was supposed to be starting the DHEP programme on 20 February but there were only four of us available for that start date, so we joined the next cohort.

“In that time between 20 February and 5 March when I eventually started, our sergeant organised shadowing days for us which were great. We visited the dog training unit, went to Cosford to see public order training and Taser training, visited Perry Barr custody, LOCATE and Force Control and got to sit in on pursuit training as well.

“We could have been sat on computers for those two weeks, so thank you Sergeant Killeen for organising it all.”


 is early days for Pete and his fellow recruits as they work towards getting independent patrol status before moving onto other parts of the course. But he says there is already a strong sense of camaraderie between the group and he also has an open mind as to where this job may eventually take him.

“Meeting the other new recruits has been great. The police family thing happens very quickly,” he said. “I am looking forward to PST and being on response and the response element is my main interest at the minute.

“My ambition at the moment is to get my independent patrol status and I am keen not to get too far ahead of myself.

“I am sure the experiences I have over the next two years will give me an idea of the role that would suit me best. At the moment I am interested in response and policing work that is on the front-line. I would also like to learn more about firearms.

“The tutors have been very helpful, the cohort is great, and we have already been made to feel part of the West Midlands Police family, so it was worth that nine-month wait.”

For more information on the DHEP, visit the join the police section of the College of Policing website – college.police.uk

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