A group of eight young people with special needs have celebrated graduation from an Avon and Somerset Police training programme.

The scheme provided work experience for the youngsters, aged between 18 and 25 years old.

They got to experience various roles within the police including working alongside neighbourhood policing teams, working in the vehicle workshop and helping to care for horses in the mounted section.

Aaron, one of the schemes participants, said: “It’s been really good. The police teams have all been very helpful and they’ve taught me a lot of things. Different skills which I didn’t have before, and it’s really put into perspective what kind of things I can do, and how helpful I can be at times.”

Other members of the team made a video sharing their experiences:

Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “Having tracked the young people’s journeys from the start and having checked in along the way, I can say with some confidence it has been life changing and not just for the interns. It has also changed us as an organisation for the better.

We’ve learned a lot from the young people themselves and have been able to have conversations about how we become more inclusive as a workplace as a result. All eight young people have been a fantastic addition to our service, and we’ve enjoyed supporting them to develop their experiences of work.

I’m proud we’ve been able to support three of our trainees to remain with us, to continue to bring their skills to our workforce, and wish all the participants well on their next steps.”

The project was led by Detective Sergeant James Holdsworth, he said: “The traineeship and interns have had a hugely positive impact on the directorate, and us as individuals. Their attitude, enthusiasm and personal development has been memorable and inspiring. We’ve become much more inclusive as a department, with staff actively volunteering to work and support future interns.

“We also secured funding to provide bespoke neurodivergent training for our colleagues. As a team we now know much more about neurodiversity and are adapting how we interact, not only with our colleagues, but also with victims, witnesses, suspects and the community we serve.”  

Lorraine Spiller, Vocational Tutor at Seetec Outsource, added: "Young people with Special Educational Needs can, through no fault of their own, find themselves quite far away from the labour market. These internships have therefore been transformational, providing a balance between learning valuable life skills and practical work experience.

“Each of these learners has gone on a significant journey, and their future opportunities have now dramatically improved. We’re absolutely delighted to see each of them graduate from this programme!”