Police chief forced to defend latest recruits after trolls make cruel jokes

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This image became subject to vile abuse (Image: West Yorkshire Police / SWNS)
This image became subject to vile abuse (Image: West Yorkshire Police / SWNS)

A top police officer had to intervene when her force's latest teenage recruits were mocked in vile social media attacks.

West Yorkshire Police had shared images of Alfie and Noah in their full uniform at their welcome meeting with Superintendent Helen Brear. They are the latest additions through the Police Uplift programme, a drive to recruit an "additional" 20,000 police officers in England and Wales.

But the pictures led to a barrage of abuse from keyboard trolls, teasing how young the pair look. One social media user commented "1000 per cent bullied at school" and another asked "has the pension got so bad that they have to start at 12?"

The comments continued with "has puberty struck yet" and "should I be letting the NSPCC know about this?" A remark by another joker read: "The 10-year-old could have washed his hands before his pic with the boss."

These slurs came despite the force stating their delight to welcome Noah and Alfie, and that all student officers must be over 18 to apply for the roles. And Supt Brear herself became so irate at the response, she took to social media herself to defend the recruits - and said they'll both "make great cops".

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"I have been incredibly disappointed by some of the responses. Both of my colleagues passed the recruitment process and displayed they had the skills/abilities. Both will make great cops and I as their leader will ensure they reach their potential," the senior officer posted.

Last year alone, West Yorkshire Police recruited 624 officers through its Uplift programme, which began in September 2019. Other social media users praised the force - and the recruits - in impassioned posts.

One former police officer wrote: "I joined at 19 and thought I looked young, but my God they look like schoolchildren. That being said I in no way doubt their ability to do the job and wish them well." Another member of the public said: "They literally look like school kids, but fair play and massive respect for putting their heads above the wall to take this career on."

Norman Brennan, a former police officer and anti-crime campaigner, tweeted: "I was once young faced probationer and someone once said I looked too young to be an officer but I became pretty good at nicking people."

Caroline Goode, a retired detective superintendent, commented: "They will get plenty of stick on the streets for looking young, much as I did. Some people may feel they can take liberties and quickly find out they were mistaken. They will do just fine. Wish them luck from an oldie, tell them enjoy their youthful looks while they can."

West Yorkshire Police state on their website that those applying to join the police "must have reached 18" to become a student officer. Their training combines a mixture of classroom learning and practical experience and if successful will gain a degree at the end of the three-year course.

Bradley Jolly

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