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.

Policing and Forensics – Careers and Employability Event a Great Success

Wednesday 10th February saw around 70 students joining academics, alumni, police professionals and university careers staff on MS Teams to raise awareness and better equip students for applying for roles in policing and the wider forensics jobs market.

The event was borne out of conversations with police specialists who felt that former students applying for roles within Police Forensics weren’t giving themselves the best chance of being selected for interview.

The event was organised by Dean Northfield, the School of Law, Policing and Forensics Placement Coordinator, and Martyn Hordern, the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership Coordinator, with initial discussions taking place last autumn before the current lockdown.

Undeterred, an MS Team’s event was arranged and speakers were gathered to assist in as many ways as possible. The event saw two former students giving their thoughts on police and private role applications, a former Police Assistant Chief Constable demystifying the police application form and a current police Digital Forensic Coordinator giving his guidance and advice. Also present were police recruitment specialists, and specialists from the Institute of Policing and the University Careers Relationship team, supported by a student Careers Coach.

Vicky Cook from the University’s Careers Relationship team talked about students’ online presence and said “if you wouldn’t want your gran to see it don’t put it online”, emphasising that prospective employers will check what potential employees are doing online.

Former students Becky Teague and Kira Low gave their experiences as graduates from 2020. Becky had also been a police Special Constable and was now working with a private digital forensics company. Kira meanwhile works for Norfolk Constabulary in their Digital Forensics Unit. Both gave some insightful advice from the differing application processes used to prepare yourself whilst still at University.

Ian Ackerley, Course Leader for Policing and Criminal Investigation and a former Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) with Staffordshire Police, shared some helpful tips and advice on how to turn a good application into a very good one, whilst at the same time preventing a very good application becoming just an adequate one.

Adam Newbery from Staffordshire Police’s Digital Forensics Unit gave some insight into finding Police roles, preparing yourself, having a career plan and how to sell yourself in the application form.

The day concluded with Dionne Johnson (from the Staffordshire Police’s Recruiting Team) sharing police career advice, including the STEP IN process to assist potential applicants, and Bethany Hepher from the Institute of Policing, who talked about the PCDA and DHEP (Police Apprenticeship) routes into being a Police Officer.

Martyn Hordern said “I am sure that each and everyone of [our guests] will have helped those on the call to be better prepared to apply for and hopefully get roles within forensics, policing, or similar”.

Dean Northfield said after the event, “we are really passionate about employability skills and it was refreshing that so many common themes went through each presentation”. He added that it was hoped for such an event to become a fixture going forward.

 

 

International Book Giving Day

The 14th February is not only Valentine’s Day, it is also International Book Giving Day. The day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing access to books. We asked staff to suggest some books from their subject areas (both fiction and non-fiction) that they enjoyed reading and that others may find interesting.

 

 

Blue: A memoir: Keeping the Piece and Falling to Pieces by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

 

Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain by Thomas Grant

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the line: Lessons from a Life on Duty by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

I am Pilgrim: Can You Commit the Perfect Crime by Terry Hayes

Suggested by: Dr Fran Stubbs-Hayes, Forensics Lecturer

 

 

 

 

In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence by Rhodri Jefreys-Jones

Suggested by: Associate Professor Tony Craig, Lecturer in International Studies

 

 

 

 

 

In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

 

Isis: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M Berger

Suggested by: Aman Jaswal, PhD Researcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

On The Farm: Robert Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancourver’s Missing Women by Stevie Cameron

Suggested by: Emma Tilley, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing

 

 

 

Police Socialisation, Identity and Culture: Becoming Blue by Sarah Chapman

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

 

Research Ethics: In the Real World by Helen Kara

Suggested by: Sarah Page, Criminology Lecturer

 

 

 

 

Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister

Suggested by: Dr John McGarry, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer

 

 

 

 

 

The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken

Suggested by: Abbeygail Standen, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing

 

 

 

 

 

When the Dogs Don’t Bark: A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth by Angela Gallop

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer

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 Gov.uk, 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:

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Human trafficking is the trapping of people using violence, deception, or coercion and exploiting them for personal or financial gain. The National Crime Agency have said that it’s difficult to know exactly how many victims there are of human trafficking and modern slavery in the U.K. In 2019, of 10,627 potential victims of modern slavery that were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), officials believed that 8,429 were victims.

This year, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focuses on the first responders who work to identify, support, counsel and seek justice for the victims of trafficking.

Lecturer for the Institute of Policing, Phil Parkinson, took time to reflect on his work supporting the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery.

“Prior to entering academia, I had a very interesting career as a police officer. I found that I had a real affinity for dealing with victims of various crimes, along with a passion for investigative interviewing.

Amongst the highlights of my time as a police officer were the years I spent working in a specialist unit dealing with offences against and/or involving children, and intra-familial offences; in particular sexual offences. The experience I gained in that unit instilled in me a recognition of the need for the authorities to identify and protect the most vulnerable in society, together with an appreciation of just how powerless some people can truly be.

After leaving the police, I spent six years working with Lincolnshire Police as a specialist crime trainer, a large part of my role being to train police officers and other staff in interview techniques and how to use those techniques to obtain quality information from witnesses, victims and suspects.

I left the above role in order to form a training company (Zakon Training) together with a business partner. Amongst the contracts that we secured were the delivery of various training events for staff employed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

The GLAA deal with offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and offences include keeping someone in a condition of slavery or servitude and also human trafficking. These are of course very serious offences that carry penalties up to life imprisonment on conviction.

Whilst I was involved in the design and delivery of all the training for the GLAA, such training covering various specialist areas, I was most pleased and proud to be involved with training GLAA investigators and other staff in advanced interview techniques used when obtaining accounts from witnesses, victims and suspects.

I am well aware that the GLAA staff I have helped to train have dealt with some very serious and high-profile human trafficking cases. I am proud to say that the training that I and the other Zakon Training staff delivered has upskilled many of the GLAA staff such that they became more confident in their abilities, and more sure of proving cases in court and thereby helping more victims.

Another specialist group of people that I have worked with through my association with Zakon Training has been police interpreters. Many of the victims, witnesses and suspects in human trafficking cases do not have English as a first language. Without the help of interpreters, it would be very difficult for prosecuting agencies such as the police and GLAA to obtain accurate and timely accounts from the victims in particular, or for suspects to be dealt with legally and ethically. 

I have helped Zakon Training to deliver a number of workshops to hundreds of interpreters from all over the UK, covering such subject matters as their role in the police interview, and the recognition of modern slavery and human trafficking offences and victims.”

Join the conversation using the hashtags #EndHumanTrafficking and #HumanTrafficking on social media.

You can find out more about how to report suspected cases of human trafficking here.

Natter Me Duck

Policing Lecturer and Mental Health Coordinator, Deborah Sproston-Bewley, talks about the ‘Natter Me Duck’ initiative she created to help out students during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Within a few days in March the measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 became immediate and were drastic. You don’t have to be at the epicentre of the pandemic for your life to be turned upside down; due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it is a scary time for students.

Our campus became quiet and our classes moved on-line, all of which impact on the students.

We have students who are still living on campus and maybe feeling sad and isolated.

I am the Mental Health Coordinator for the school, and as such I thought about what I could do while we were all in lockdown and unable to communicate with each other on a regular basis. 

I came up with Natter Me duck, which is a platform through collaborate that students can log into on a specific day and just have a natter, not just with me but with other students.  For those of you that don’t know in Stoke-on-Trent duck is a common phase used.  E.g. you OK duck?

The idea behind ‘Natter Me duck’ was for students to natter about anything.  From how I cut my fringe? how do I bake a cake? or I’m suffering with anxiety due to void 19. It is a place where students can share their experiences and support and advise one another.  

The main aim is just to have a natter and for students not to feel isolated and on their own.  

An e-mail is sent out to all 750 students in our school which informs them of the date and time of a ‘natter me duck’ session and gives them the link to join.

Step Up to Policing and Criminal Investigation

If you are thinking of studying at university, but are worried about your qualifications or haven’t studied in a long time, then have you seen Staffordshire University’s Step Up to HE programme? Robyn Leese, now a Policing and Criminal Investigation student, is one of many of our undergraduate students who progressed through the programme and has shared with us what she thought of it.

What motivated you to apply for Step Up?

I applied to the Step-up Course after doing 2 A-levels which did not guarantee me a place on my desired course. During the Step-up course you will develop new skills which help you progress in your higher education course.

How do you feel now you have progressed onto your degree? Did Step-up help prepare you?

Now I have completed the 1st year of my degree I am glad I did the Step-up course as it enabled me to learn new skills which have been needed for my course such as, correct grammatical techniques along with learning how to reference correctly. It also gave me the confidence to interact with new people which has benefitted me not only with my course, but outside the lectures too.

Would you recommended the Step-Up Course? What advice would you give to students considering returning to education?

I would definitely recommend doing the Step-up course, as it has helped me with my course and all the members of staff are so lovely and supporting through the whole process. If you are a student returning to education then I would advise you to interact with those on your course, as well as your lecturers as it makes it so much more fun and easier. I would also advise you to take as many opportunities as you can as it will make your university experience so much better.

Finding Time for Pleasure in an Accelerated Society: Multitasking while Driving

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, Lecturer in Policing, discusses why people multitask when driving and the implications for the Police.

For many of us, it is difficult to keep up with the demands of daily life – to complete all work-related tasks, to provide childcare, to keep up with our social lives, keep up with an exercise regime and still walk the dog at the end of the day. There are so many possibilities for activities in a single day, so much that we feel we must achieve, and yet seemingly so little time in which to achieve it. We feel hurried, under time pressures to complete tasks and consequently, stressed at the thought of it all. Some academics describe this as an acceleration of the pace of life. We might respond by either reducing the amount of time spent on each activity – by cutting the amount of time we spend with relatives, or attending one gym class rather than two. Or we might perform tasks simultaneously, multitasking to achieve more than one outcome within the same amount of time – we might walk the dog and call a friend at the same time.

Another area where multitasking has been observed is within vehicles – performing more than one task when driving to save time or relieve some sense of the pressure associated with this accelerated pace of life. Drivers have been found to use the car as an extension of the office, making phone calls to contact colleagues and clients, to prevent their loss of custom or income through work. Drivers have also been caught contacting family via video call to make the most of their time when so much of it is spent driving as part of their working day. Mobile phone use while driving has been found to increase over recent years, despite the issue of multitasking while driving in this way having the potential to produce significant consequences. Drivers have even been caught performing extremely private acts whilst driving – with the vehicle sometimes perceived as a private space not unlike our own homes. Where we struggle to find time for activities that bring us joy, time spent driving may be increasingly perceived as time wasted; time that we could spend doing those things we enjoy, or making time for those things by performing activities we have to do whilst we are driving.

This has implications for policing – policing of the roads becomes evermore difficult in a society that encourages people to multitask, particularly where time spent driving is perceived to be time ‘wasted’. This is simply one of a multiplicity of sensitives in relation to the policing of the roads – it is perhaps more complex than meets the eye.