Guest blog: ‘Here it comes… the year 3 research project’

Staffordshire University is partnered with Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands Police to deliver Police Constable Degree Apprenticeships, the Degree Holder Entry Programme and the Detective Constable Degree Holder Entry Programme. We currently have more than 1200 student officers from across the region on our programmes and, as many cohorts of our student officers progress onto year 2 of their studies, Steve Webb, Warwickshire Police’s Operational Learning Sergeant, took some time to share his thoughts and insights into tackling research projects.

“The aim of this blog is to give you some ideas and tips on what I would be doing if I was completing my own research, how this can fit around your workload and bring value to your force.

So what would I do, I would plan early and take one step at a time.

My name is Steve Webb and I am the Operational Learning Sgt from Warwickshire Police, I am currently seconded onto the West Midlands regional PEQF project team working closely with Staffordshire Police, West Mercia Police, West Midlands Police and Staffordshire University specifically looking at End Point Assessment (EPA) and the year 3 research Project.

If I were starting on this journey early in year 2, I would be starting to lay the foundations for my year three project. To begin with, you could have an early conversation with your force about what you can do as a project and how this fits in with their vision, priorities, crime reduction plan or local hotspot problems. 

Think about where you will be posted in Year 3 (or ask if you don’t know) so that you can work on a project in the same area. Alternatively, you can find a real life subject on your patch so that you can deal with your shift workload and the research project at the same time. What do I mean by this? Well, if you’re working on a safer neighbourhood team and dealing with an ASB problem, you could be looking at the bigger picture. What is going on? Why? What has been done before to solve the problem? Why didn’t the intervention work? What’s the national picture? Is this happening elsewhere?  And then… finally developing my own solutions using the SARA model. You may find it helpful to look at the College’s Logic Model which helps in planning interventions. Also, see the best-evidence about problem-oriented policing in the Crime Reduction Toolkit.

Remember that it is you that has to complete the research in a relatively short timeframe, there will limited assistance from other departments in your force so make sure you factor this in when thinking about your project and how you can achieve it. 

We are all on a learning journey and you will get inputs from your Higher Education Institute. As part of your modules, you will be expected to write a draft proposal and presentation. So I would be getting ahead and finding out what my force expects of me… and going to them with an idea of something that you’re interested in that excites you. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being given a subject that didn’t appeal to me.

My time is precious, so if my draft proposal is 1000 words, I’d use this towards my final project.  You’ve already completed 10% by doing the prep work for the module… so if you asked me how I would approach the year three project, I’d say one step at a time, working smart and planning ahead.”

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