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.

International Women’s Day: Women in policing – the power to empower

Dr Sarah Jane Fox, who has recently joined Staffordshire University’s Institute of Policing, has written a piece for Policing Insight to honour the role that women play in policing. 

The article highlights the key role that women already play in policing and the efforts to address the gender imbalance in police services around the globe, as well as in wider society.

Sarah said: “In 2018 I was fortunate to be part of an international policing event which was had good representation from female officers. However, it was very clear that some nations were further behind than even my early experiences from the 1980s in terms of equality and opportunities afforded to these officers.

“As part of my degree developments, I’m looking to ensure that with the new Policing Education Qualification Framework (PEQF), that no one is left behind in terms of equality and opportunities – this includes serving and experienced officers. I wrote one of the first Top-Up’s in the UK and I am looking to use my expertise to develop programmes within the IoP.

You can read Dr Sarah Jane Fox’s full article on the Policing Insight website.

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.”

Staying safe on the roads

Adam Greenslade standing in front of police carOrganisations around the country have been running campaigns to highlight National Road Victims Month and, now that the DVSA have begun reopening driving test bookings and more cars are back on the roads, road safety should be a consideration for everyone.

Based on his expertise, we asked Lecturer in Policing, Adam Greenslade, to share some advice with us on how to stay safe on the roads.  

“According to, 27,820 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads between June 2018 and June 2019. As a career police officer, I spent many operational years in the specialist area of roads policing and now, as a lecturer at the Institute of Policing here at Staffordshire University, I share my knowledge and experience with the roads policing officers of the future.

Reflecting on the many incidents I attended over the years, from country roads, motorways, to built-up urban areas, the first thing I would say is, “accidents” in a roads sense are best described as “collisions” as in most instances they are entirely avoidable with some basic common-sense care when driving. Adam Greenslade sitting in his police car

Here are the things I found to be the five top causes of collisions during my policing career:

  1. Speed

Things happen faster when you’re travelling faster and in simple terms, the quicker you’re travelling the less time you have to react if something does happen. I’ve been to countless jobs where the first words out of the driver’s mouth were “there was nothing I could do to avoid it, it all happened so quick”. 

Slow down and give yourself time to take in and react to what is developing around you.

  1. Over Confidence

Whether it’s a new or a more established driver, over confidence or an over estimation in their ability or lack of understanding of the performance of their vehicle was something I saw time and time again. Driving too fast for a bend, going for an overtake on a country road when you can’t see what’s round the next bend or what’s coming out of that gateway, speeding up for an amber traffic light and jumping the junction instead of slowing down to a stop, underestimating the effects of snow, high winds or heavy rain on vehicle handling… the list is endless. All too often drivers would come unstuck (literally in the case of driving too fast on an icy road!) and end up in a collision.

Know your vehicle and know your own abilities, be realistic, don’t take risks or chances with your own and others’ lives… and never be an “amber gambler”!

  1. Mobiles – texting

Despite stiff penalties and publicity people still use mobile phones and other electronic hand–held devices when driving. They may have a hands free, but you would still turn up at really bumps and find that a driver involved had been checking emails, texting or browsing the web on their phone or a tablet. Literally trying to steer with one hand, text with the other, with their eyes off the road and their mind concentrating on the message not the developing danger ahead of them.

Leave your phone in the glove box and check it when you get where you’re going.  If it’s a long journey and you really can’t be out of touch for that long, pull over, have a brew and catch up on your messages. Don’t risk it while you’re behind the wheel. It really isn’t worth it.

  1. Impairment

Alcohol and drugs are a sad but common factor at collisions. Time and time again you would find at least one of the parties in a collision had consumed drink, drugs or in some instances both. Any alcohol will impair your driving ability, whether you are over the limit or not. It affects your judgement, your reactions, gives you false confidence and increases your risk taking. As for drugs, well, you don’t have to be a pharmacist to know that whatever the substance it’s going to seriously impact on your cognitive and psychomotor functions.

If you’re driving, don’t drink, at all. Don’t take drugs, any. If you’re on a prescription, follow the advice on the bottle, if it says don’t drive, don’t.

All the myths about “it’s OK with a big meal”, “I’m OK on 3 pints”, “I’m more chilled after a spliff and drive better” is a load of old rubbish. You’re risking yourself and others. You will get caught, lose your licence and if your involved in a serious incident you may well go to prison. Just don’t do it.

  1. The vehicle

Vehicle condition or items carried in or on it are a frequent cause of collisions. You could fill a warehouse with the number of ladders and planks of wood that I have picked up off the carriageway after they have come off a roof-rack and caused a collision. Defective tyres can drastically reduce your grip and ability to stop or blow out entirely and cause a loss of control or a vehicle to overturn. Basics like faulty lights, worn windscreen wipers or running out of screen wash affect your ability to see and be seen. Even something as simple as a break down can put you and your passengers at risk, especially if you’re in a live lane of a motorway or dual carriageway… and on the subject of passengers’ safety, make sure they are wearing their seatbelts and children are in a properly fitted appropriate child-seat that you check every journey. In a collision any loose object, whether it’s a box of shopping or a passenger, flying about inside the vehicle is going to cause a serious injury if it hits you.

Keep your vehicle roadworthy – especially basics like brakes, lights and tyres, top up your screen wash and secure loads both inside (especially passengers!) and outside the vehicle.  Oh, and always defrost your glass before you move off on winter journeys.”

Watch the video for Adam’s 7 top tips for staying safe on the road: