WILTSHIRE Police has been given the go-ahead to recruit a minimum of 300 new police officers over the next three years.

The move is part of the Government's pledge to put 20,000 new police bobbies on the beat.

Next Monday (September 23), the Force will open its first recruitment campaign in two years. The campaign will run for three weeks until Sunday, October 13.

The successful applicants will be the first student officers to take the new three-year policing degree apprenticeship. For those who already have a degree, there will be a two-year graduate diploma starting from June 2020.

The Force expects to train 100 police constables over the next 12 months and awaits the allocation of additional police officer numbers from the Government's national 'Be A Force For All' recruitment campaign, which could see this number increase over the next three years.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, the Force lead for recruitment, said: "Our next round of recruitment is in November where we've got some additional 40 police officers coming and then we have got in-takes in February and June next year.

"Every three or four months we will be having in-takes to give us around a 100 plus officers. They will be deployed across the county, predominantly into front line policing roles."

The Force is just about to release a cohort of 20 police officers from their initial 22-week training course at the Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes.

From Monday, October 14, ten of them will be stationed in Swindon, three in Trowbridge, two in Warminster, and one each in Amesbury, Chippenham, Devizes, Royal Wootton Bassett and Salisbury.

The cohort comprises mostly men and they are mostly white, but there are four women among them who are just about to finish their initial training before going out onto the streets.

The group include Peter Burden, a 31-year-old from the Philippines who worked in IT in the financial services sector before deciding he wanted to become a police officer.

Peter, who will be stationed in Devizes, said he had always wanted to help people.

He came to the UK when he was three and grew up in East Sussex and then moved to Dorchester. He studied business and computing at the University of Bristol.

He said: "It sounds a bit cliched, but I have always wanted to help people. I like helping people, and that maybe comes from being from the Philippines."

Mr Burden, who suffers from dyslexia, was helped by a member of the Force's Positive Action group to make his application.

"Coming from the private sector, I really am surprised about much people really supported me. I was really surprised about how much of a family it is, they really want you to do well."

Wiltshire Police spokeswoman Liz Cook, says the Force wants to recruit more officers from ethnic minority communities.

"We really want more people from ethnic minority backgrounds and more women to think of policing as a career."

"It's small numbers compared to white males, but there are more women coming forward."