Welcome to the School of Law, Policing and Forensics

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The School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law, Policing and Criminal Investigation, Professional Policing, Criminology, Criminal International Relations,Security and Intelligence, Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation, and Forensic Archaeology and Genocide Investigation.

With over fifty staff members we have expertise in rape testing, prevention and prosecution, ballistic testing, fibre analysis, soil analysis, Family Law and Employment Law among others. We offer BA and BSc, MSci, and MScs and MAs along with a Masters by Applied Research in a range of areas.

We also deliver the Police Apprenticeships with Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and West Mercia Police.

Public Service Day 2021: Innovations in access to policing careers

On Wednesday 23 June we’ll be celebrating Public Service Day. The UN launched this international day in 2003 to celebrate the contributions those in the public sector and civil service make to our society. The theme for this year is ‘Innovating for a new era: Leveraging the role of technology for the future public service’.

Our University has delivered many innovations during the past two years of our regional police partnership and in April we launched Step Up to Policing. Our 10-week long level 3 course develops students’ academic skills and prepares them for their next steps towards a policing career. What’s more, it’s delivered completely online to provide accessibility to aspiring police officers across the region.

Step Up to Policing Course Leader, Phil Wagg, is a Recruitment Development Officer and has worked at Staffordshire University’s Institute of Policing for two years. He has recently achieved a Masters’ Degree in International Relations and is passionate about helping people to achieve their goals. In his spare time, he plays guitar and manages a junior football team. 

We sat down with Phil to find out how the first cohort got on. 

Hi Phil, how’re things going?

Yeah, good thanks. The Institute of Policing’s Recruitment Development Officers are all really busy, but the sun is shining, and the world seems to be getting back to some kind of normality. No complaints here. 

Can you tell us a bit about your role as a Recruitment Development Officer?

Our team engages with potential candidates from their initial enquiry, right up to enrolling them and carrying out their ID checks on their first day at university. We attend recruitment events to deliver talks about the PEQF and answer any questions, we check qualifications and provide advice to ensure candidates are eligible for funding. We work closely with our partners to plan and allocate places, complete eligibility checks and get the successful candidates enrolled with the university on time. We’re here to support our partner forces as they recruit onto the PEQF pathways into policing.

PEQF? Can you tell us what that is?

Absolutely, in 2018 the College of Policing launched the Policing Education Qualifications Framework which set out three entry routes into policing for new recruits. All new officers now need to be qualified to degree level, and the three pathways help them to get there. These include the Pre-Join Degree, Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), and Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP). All of these routes require previous Level 3 qualifications such as A-Levels or BTECs, and we receive a large number of enquiries initially from candidates who would make great police officers but did not have sufficient qualifications to apply to any of the routes. This is why we designed the Step Up to Policing access course to meet the needs of these candidates and our regional police force partners.

So, you’ve just finished delivering to the first group of Step Up to Policing students.

Mmhmm, yep. The last 10 weeks have flown by!

How did it all go?

The course has gone surprisingly smoothly considering it was brand new. There were one or two minor technical difficulties which were to be expected from an online course, but all the students have been really enthusiastic and have engaged with the learning materials. 13 out of 14 passed their first assignment, and they will be handing in their second and final assignment on Monday 21 June which hopefully they will all pass. I am hoping for a 100% pass rate, so we will see what happens.

We’ve had a wide variety of individuals on the course. Some have had no formal education since leaving school, while others had achieved their A-Levels but wanted to build their confidence before embarking on Higher Education studies. Some of them are already working for the police in staff roles or as Special Constables, while others had no policing experience and were yet to apply.  

So it went better than expected?

I mean you always have high hopes for students on courses like this. They’re so driven and determined to do whatever it takes to get into their chosen careers. This was certainly no exception, and I was really impressed with all of the students. They took to some of the more complex concepts really well. It’s been nice to see that they can all achieve at this level with the right support and hopefully they will go on to succeed in HE.

What made you want to develop this course?

We wanted to give people a chance of achieving their career goals by removing barriers for them. For various reasons, individuals may not have progressed with education earlier in life, but that does not mean that they should be prevented from accessing HE as long as they have the willingness and motivation to do so, and have the right support to enable them to succeed. Unlike other access courses that are available, we wanted to make this course as accessible and as flexible as possible so that students could fit the learning around their work and family commitments. The entry fee is £300 which is way more affordable than any other access courses offered by other providers. We wanted to make the course policing-specific, rather than a generic HE access course, to help students be successful with their police applications. We also made it as short as possible to fit in with the fast recruitment timetable of our partner forces.

Who was involved in programme development?

I have been largely responsible for collating the learning materials, designing the structure of the course, the assignments and delivery, but I have had lots of help from a number of the Lecturers and Senior Lecturers who currently deliver on our other PEQF courses, my line manager, admin and IT support, and the programme manager of our existing Step Up to HE course.

What does the course involve/ what do students have to do?

Well, it’s a 10-week programme, with live lectures being delivered online every Tuesday. If students can’t make the live lectures, there are learning materials already available for them to access and complete in their own time. They have to complete two assignments, including a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation and a 1,000-word essay. This was quite a daunting prospect for some of the students at the start of the course, but we have specific sessions on how to tackle the assignments, and they all gave the first assignment a really good go. The course is built around supporting them to complete these assignments, and realising that as long as they plan properly and put the work in, they can achieve highly.

Oh, so people don’t need to travel to campus to take part.

No, its all online. We give them access to the Staffs Uni learning portal, Blackboard where they can access all the learning materials at any time, and we also give them an Office 365 account, which gives them access to all the tools they need to complete the assignments. It is entirely possible for a student to complete the course without interacting with the tutors at all. Although we highly recommend that the students attend the lectures and engage with tutors as this is a vital part of university study, and will enable them to get the most out of the course and a better chance of achieving high grades.

Is it true that you had people referred from the police for this course?

Absolutely, some of our partner forces had applicants who needed those level 3s to be eligible for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship pathway into policing. We worked with our partner forces to identify candidates and we encouraged them to apply for the course. Our partner forces have a limited number of free spaces for each intake, but individuals can sign up via our website with a £300 entry fee.

What backgrounds have the students typically come from?

Honestly there is no typical. In this group we had some who were unemployed, a bartender, a prison officer, and some Special Constables.

That is a real mix. Now this is something I’m sure we all want to know. How did your students do?

Aha yes, of course. All I can say is that everyone will be handing in their final assignments today and then we can get on with marking. I’ll let you know when the grades have gone out to the students.

We look forward to hearing about how they’ve done! What does the future look like for Step Up to Policing?

We have three courses ready to run in August, November and March. We’re open for applications now. It’s my hope that in the future the course will grow to allow more opportunities for individuals who want to gain a level 3 qualification and progress on to Higher Education.

What does life after Step Up to Policing look like for your students?

They can pursue a number of different pathways into policing. They could apply for any of our Undergraduate policing courses at Staffs, and then progress onto the DHEP or Pre-Join entry routes on completion, or they could apply directly to the forces for entry onto the PCDA route. Whichever route they choose, I’m excited to hear about their journey and the impacts they go on to have in their communities.

What will you be doing between now and the next intake in August?

Taking a nice long summer holiday! Haha, no. I’ll be marking and providing feedback to my students. Then it’ll be time to prepare the next course for the August intake and review applications. A big priority for me will to also check the student feedback survey to refine the course and make it even better for future cohorts.

You can find out more about Step Up to Policing here.

Are you considering taking SULAC as a module during your final year?

Are you a student at Staffordshire University and considering taking SULAC (Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic) as a module during your final year? Emma, a final year Law student shares how choosing the SULAC module has helped develop her confidence and enhance her skills.

I have just completed my final year on the LLB Law at Staffordshire University. During my final year, I undertook SULAC as a module. At the [start] I was very quiet and shy.  

If you are considering a career in practice, whether that be a solicitor or barrister, I would highly recommend SULAC as a module.  

As you already know, in practice you need to communicate with clients, other solicitors, colleagues, judges, barristers and – depending on your field of preference – the jury. You also need to carry out research and draft legal letters. 

During your time in the clinic, you are required to: 

  • Hold interviews with clients,
  • Interact and engage with other students, Tracey, clients and other solicitors and partner organisations. I had an amazing opportunity to work with Woman’s Aid and Lewis Rogers Solicitors.
  • Type up a three day letter and letter of advice
  • Research the area of law relevant to the matter. 

As you can see, you gain and expand upon the skills you need to work in the legal sector, all of which can be mentioned on your CV to make you stand out.  

As previously mentioned, when I first started SULAC I was shy, I hated public speaking and I had no self-[appreciation].  Five or six weeks of clinic [changed that]. Once I put my suit on I felt on top of the world; I spoke publicly, I carried out conflict of interest searches and research tasks confidently and, within a short period of time, I was speaking out in classes. I didn’t fear expressing my opinion or engaging in debates.  

I have an awful lot to thank the clinic and Tracey for. Tracey is so supportive and amazing to work with. It is scary to think that, if I hadn’t participated in clinic, I would have walked out with a degree but no confidence. The clinic will help you in your studies [as well]! I took Family Law as an option module, which is one of the areas of law that clinic helps with. There were times where I had a case for clinic regarding a family law matter and soon afterwards I had a lecture that matched my client’s request.  

As well as working with Lewis Rogers and Woman’s Aid, SULAC gave me [an experience] that I will never forget: the awards evening with the chair of Law Works and the Attorney-General.   

[In] your final year, what you do really does matter, so just remember: 

  • Stay calm
  • Deep breaths
  • The public are turning to you for help, advice and support. People are already looking up to you
  • What you do counts, you are helping the public gain access to legal advice and justice. 
  • Be yourself.
  • Congratulate yourself!
  • Reflect on yourself – I frequently compare how I was in the first year to final year. You will see a huge difference and, believe me, that never goes unnoticed by staff.  
  • Do what feels right for you. 

Finally, I just wanted to say to enjoy your final year: relax (but study) and do what is right for you and your future. A huge well done from me for making it this far.  

Good luck to Emma who is returning in September to complete the LLM in Legal Practice.

 

 

The Inconvenient Truth About Mobile Phone Distraction: Understanding the Means, Motive and Opportunity for Driver Resistance to Legal and Safety Messages

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, Policing Lecturer, has co-written an article on driver distraction with Helen Wells and Gemma Briggs. ‘The Inconvenient Truth About Mobile Phone Distraction: Understanding the Means, Motive and Opportunity for Driver Resistance to Legal and Safety Messages’ is on The British Journal of Criminology here.

Line of Duty: two ex-anti-corruption officers on how the police actually catch ‘bent coppers’

Ahead of the season finale of Line of Duty this weekend, Sarah Jane Fox and James Holyoak (Policing Lecturers at Staffordshire University’s The Institute of Policing) discuss how police actually catch ‘bent coppers’.

“As fans of the show, we have been gripped by the dramatic twists and turns. Line of Duty is certainly brilliant TV. However, as experts in anti-corruption, as well as former police officers and Head of Professional Standards and the Anti-Corruption Unit within Leicestershire Police, we know that it’s not the most accurate picture of what it’s really like clamping down on corruption and weeding out ‘bent coppers’.” 

Read the full article on The Conversation here.

Do you really know where your food comes from and the impact it might have on our environment and UK (United Kingdom) farming?

On International Mother Earth Day, Law Course Director, Sallyann Mellor discusses the impact food marketing has on the planet and UK farming.

When undertaking your weekly shop, do you ever consider where your food comes from and the impact your purchase may have on the environment?  Are you influenced by food branding when making your purchases?

You may be surprised to read that food packaging can be misleading and influence your purchase which in turn negatively affect the environment.

Whilst shopping you may be drawn by the name of a product and the pictures in belief that you are buying a product that is British, however the small print tells you the origin of the product to be somewhere far away from the UK, but do you really know the impact your purchase makes on the environment?

Why is this a problem? It is a problem because it misleads you as a consumer but wider than that is the impact this has on our environment and our UK farmers. 

Lockdown has taught many of us the importance of buying local not only to support our local businesses and the economy but also our local farmers. It gave us the time to really consider where our food came from and the impact on the environment and animal welfare.

UK farmers adhere to strict animal welfare regulations which ensure animal welfare standards are adhered to not only how they are kept on the farm but also how they are cared for during transportation. 

Current Regulations –there are few regulations that specifically state what can and cannot be used as branding images. This means that manufacturers can use misleading branding that influences the consumer to believe that products are from the UK where animal welfare standards are high, when in fact the products origin depicts a different reality.

Environmental Impact-How do we define the word environment and what that means, for some it may mean how we live, the world around us, for others it goes far deeper and encompasses the natural world which is affected by human activity.

Where our food comes from affects the environment in many ways, carbon footprint, climate change, animal welfare and our farming community. If you buy local, you reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact and support our British farmers and our economy.

Carbon Footprints-some products are manufactured in different countries.  We measure carbon footprint by assessing how much carbon is used in the production and transportation of a product. The lower the carbon footprint the better for the environment.

Reducing Food Miles- consider the distance where your item is produced to where it is sold. Where an item is produced may be different to where it is packaged and then sold. For example, strawberries may be produced in Egypt, transported to the UK to be packaged and then transported to supermarket depots for distribution. When taking this into consideration, miles are added to the journey of an item of food, increasing pollution. 

How Does Farming Support the Environment? –It is no surprise that our climate in the UK is most suited to growing grass, in fact 65% of farmland in the UK is best suited to growing grass rather than crops. Farmers are looking at other methods to become more sustainable as a nation but if we did not use the grassland, we would be wasting a natural resource in feeding livestock, which in turn provides us with nutrient rich meat that has not been transported across the world to feed us. Land is protected and cared for by the farmers to support their business but in doing so also supports the habitats of many animals.

Contrary to what you may have read, British beef and lamb is among the most sustainable in the world due to extensive, grass-based systems. Emissions from beef production in the UK are about half the global average, according to the Governments Committee on Climate Change

Emissions are lower than you would think, see the below infographic in part due to sustainable farming solutions.

What can you do? When shopping, closely read the food labels and look beyond the packaging to find the place of origin.  Buying British products will lower carbon footprint and support climate change and our British farming. Look out for the Red Tractor symbol on all products not just the British flag as a product could be packaged in the UK and state it is a UK product when its place of origin is not the UK.

The Red Tractor symbol certifies that high standards have been adhered to and provides traceability from the farm to the plate. You can be sure that when you are buying a product with this symbol that food standards, food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection are protected.

Think about buying fruits and vegetables that are in season and buying from local farmers markets which are increasing in the UK.

Small changes made by us all can make all the difference.

Snooker Stars and the Law

Ahead of the World Snooker Championships, Aidan Flynn, Senior Lecturer in the Law Department, recollects a few instances where noted characters in the world of professional snooker had well publicised interactions with the law.

The World Snooker Championship takes place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from the 17th of April to the 3rd of May.  The tournament is part of the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), one of the events hosting audiences as part of the government’s plan to get big crowds back this summer.

By barfisch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17390498 

Alex Higgins (1949 – 2010), world champion in 1972 and 1982, found himself the defendant in a Magistrates’ Court on a few occasions.  At the 1986 UK Championship, in Preston Guild Hall, tournament director Paul Hatherall was headbutted by Higgins.  The case came before Preston Magistrates’ Court in January 1987 where the incident was described as a “completely unprovoked attack.”  Higgins pleaded guilty and was fined £250 (£200 for assault and £50 for criminal damage to a door).  A decade later he again found himself charged in relation to an assault and in June 1996 was given a conditional discharge at Stockport Magistrates’ Court.  As well as these assault cases, Higgins also appeared at Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court in December 1985.  This related to charges arising from an incident where he threw a television through the glass in a window at his home, Delveron House in Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire.

One of Alex Higgins’ managers was Howard Kruger, a well-known figure in sports management who also worked with 1986 world champion Joe Johnson and Tony Knowles.  Kruger was the subject of proceedings at Brighton County Court in October 1991.  He was disqualified for five years from holding any company directorship.

In 2015 referee Michaela Tabb was involved in a dispute with World Snooker, the body that runs the professional tour.  Tabb brought a case against World Snooker at an employment tribunal in Bristol.  The case was a claim for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, and breach of contract.  There was an out-of-court settlement and World Snooker issued a statement which stated that “Michaela McInnes (Tabb) and World Snooker Limited have come to a confidential accommodation regarding the claims.”

It is to be hoped that stories for which the 2021 World Championship will be remembered will relate solely to high quality contests in the arena at the Crucible. 

Responsible Practice or Restricted Practice? An Empirial Study of the Use of Clinical Guidelines in Medical Negligence Litigation

Dr Joanne Beswick, Senior Lecturer in Law, has co-written an article with Ash Samantha and Jo Samanta that has been published in the Medical Law Review. You can read ‘Responsible Practice or Restricted Practice? An Empirial Study of the Use of Clinical Guidelines in Medical Negligence Litigation’ here.