Sixteen new police officers who were all recruited from South Gwynedd communities will soon be pounding the beats of their local area.
The rookie officers, 11 men and five women, have just started six months of intense training at Dolgellau Police Station.
North Wales Police had originally struggled to attract enough applicants wanting to work in the area.
One of the main problems for people living locally was that they would have had to commute daily to St Asaph for the duration of the six-month training course.
For some it would have involved a two-hour journey each way.
The answer was to switch the training venue for this group of trainee officers.
According to North Wales Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Griffith, the force had been able to recruit talented people who otherwise may have slipped through the net.
She said: “It really is encouraging to see 16 new recruits appointed from the communities of South Gwynedd that will train and then serve in the very areas from where they were recruited.
“Previously all new recruits travelled to St Asaph or Colwyn Bay for their initial training. That put a huge strain both in terms of time and finance on officers who had to travel each day from South Gwynedd to complete their six months of training.
“It meant the force too often missed out on some very talented individuals who simply couldn’t afford to commit to travelling that distance each day. It would be particularly difficult for officers who are also parents.
“However, by moving training to Dolgellau it means officers have been recruited from the very communities they will serve and all 16 recruits have agreed they will serve for a minimum of two years in South Gwynedd after completing their initial training.
“I want to see the training of new officers taking place around the force area and not just at Colwyn Bay or St Asaph. As we have done here at Dolgellau we should be considering holding training courses on Anglesey, at Holyhead or Caernarfon to ensure we attract the very best local recruits.
“I’m also pleased Welsh language skills has been taken into account when recruiting these new officers. That will help them to properly reflect the communities they serve.
“While not being able to speak Welsh fluently was not a bar to joining the force I understand all have some level of Welsh language skills with those less able committed to an improvement programme.”
New recruit Elliw Roberts, 26, of Blaenau Ffestiniog, worked as a North Wales Police PCSO in Barmouth for three years prior to being accepted for training as a police officer.
She said: “I have a daughter, Gwen, who is four, and to drive to St Asaph or Colwyn Bay for six months for training would have been very difficult if not impossible for me even with the support of my husband, David, who is a builder.
“I did 10 week PCSO training at Colwyn Bay and it was very, very difficult. However, I‘m thrilled to be doing my training here in Dolgellau and it’s great knowing I will be stationed in and serving South Gwynedd.
“I’m really excited about my police career. I did do some teacher training but everything I have done subsequently has been aimed at my becoming a police officer. Everything has been geared to achieving that goal.”
Fellow new recruit Tom Carr, 29, is from Dolgellau previously worked as a fitness instructor and attendant at the town’s leisure centre and gym.
He said: “It all happened very quickly for me and I was sort of fast-tracked to get onto this intake for which I’m very grateful.
“I had my final interview and thought I was joining in the summer and would be trained at Colwyn Bay but as this intake and training was being conducted in Dolgellau they managed to get me in.
“I’m grateful to my previous employers for allowing me to work extra shifts so I could finish early and not have to complete my full notice. The way it’s worked out means I have started training just three weeks after being accepted. I’m very lucky.
“Training here in Dolgellau is a Godsend. Having to travel to the other side of North Wales for training would have been very difficult.
“I’m just glad to have been accepted and I’m looking forward to my new career and serving the people of my own area of South Gwynedd.”
Ann Griffith added that the financial savings being made as a result of the closure of the custody suite at Dolgellau will be reinvested in the area.
As a result an additional two sergeants and four constables to the area’s Safe Neighbourhood Team to strengthen the policing of South Gwynedd.
She said: “The Police and Crime Commissioner and I are delighted the savings generated by the closure of the custody suite will be ploughed back into South Gwynedd.
“While we didn’t want to see the custody suite at Dolgellau close the business case leaves no other viable option and it is the Chief Constable that has taken the operational decision to close the facility.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner and I support that decision as the savings made will be reinvested in South Gwynedd.”
Retired North Wales Police officer, Andrew Jones and serving officer Gill Hughes, are in charge of training the 16 new recruits throughout their six months training course at Dolgellau.
Andrew Jones, who retired from the force having reached the rank of temporary inspector before signing up as a trainer, says conducting the 16 new officers’ training in Dolgellau makes a great deal of sense.
He said: “Of the 16 new officers only three have previous police experience. Two were former PCSO’s and one was a special constable. The rest are completely new to police work and means we have new officers with experience and life skills across a broad spectrum.”
Gill Hughes, who transferred to North Wales Police from Greater Manchester Police in 2009 and has more than 11 years’ service, said: “They have all have agreed to work for a minimum of two years in South Gwynedd as part of their terms and conditions on completion of their training.”