NEW police recruit Jessica Berry didn’t have much time to settle into the role. Within days of starting, she was called on to employ a spike strip - commonly called a ‘stinger’ - to stop a speeding vehicle that was attempting to evade a colleague.

Student officer PC Berry, 22, has been paired up with mentor PC Andy Carey - himself only two years into his career - and will be based at Barnsley until January as she gets to grips with policing the borough’s streets.

After that, the law and psychology graduate hopes to go on to South Yorkshire Police’s criminal investigation department (CID) through further training with the force.

“It’s gone really well - Jess is keen and enthusiastic,” said PC Carey, 37.

“She’s experienced a range of incidents already and is learning quickly.

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“Those are things that are going to help anyone joining the police to get anywhere.”

Jessica, who’s spent the last two years working in a prison and lives in Wakefield, said: “Every day is definitely different.

“A couple of days in I was quite fresh, I didn’t really know what I was doing, when we got the call that a colleague had a ‘fail to stop’ down the road.

“I was on one end of a long road and they were on the other, and I had to deploy the stinger - getting to see that in your first few days is interesting.”

Almost half of Barnsley residents believe local crime levels have increased in the last 18 months, according to a police survey.

This is despite local neighbourhood hubs in various areas of the borough - something less than half of people know about - receiving new staff as part of the force’s biggest ever recruitment drive.

“Because of government changes, numbers are now significantly less than they were ten years ago,” said PC Carey.

“We are busy and that’s not going to go away.

“We want to provide the best service we can and we need people to help us do that.”

The student officer route is one possibility for hopefuls, with PC Berry on a fast-track route to becoming a CID detective.

“I always wanted to do something in this field,” she added.

“It’s a lot more rewarding dealing directly with victims, and seeing how many people you’re having an effect on.”