It used to be that joining the police force meant that you had a job for life and a glowing career laid out ahead of you. But what with spending cuts and a changed agenda this is no longer the case and, in order to get promoted nowadays, police officers have to knuckle-down to some serious study.
Andy Wilkinson, 37, originally from Ulverston, had no previous academic background. Having joined the police at 20, he worked his way up to chief inspector during his 17 years on the job.
He chose to study a MSc in Strategic Policing at the University of Cumbria, citing an ‘opportunity to develop academically and bridge a knowledge gap in strategic policing’, and surprised even himself when he passed the course with merit and won the title of ‘postgraduate student of the year’.
The course wasn’t easy and along the way Andy experienced several occasions where the combination of studying, writing assessments and operating in a full-time role culminated in a high degree of pressure.
“There were many points during the course when I thought to myself, is this worth it, how am I going to finish, and my course tutors were great at getting me focused and back on track. I would have been more than happy to have passed but to get a merit is just fantastic. Then to be considered for and to win the award just topped it all off and is very much appreciated”.
He continued, “The great thing about the course is its relevance to the job. I apply the learnings to my work on a near daily basis - be it developing and implementing strategies, compiling business cases or applying theory of leadership models to actual activity”.
Francis Simpson, Lecturer in Policing, was Andy’s course tutor and put him forward for the award, “There is not a more deserving recipient of this award than Andy. What he has achieved in such a short space of time, without any academic background is to his credit, and most laudable and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching him.” He continued, “I’m hoping I’ll be able to persuade him to guest lecture on some of undergraduate modules in the future with rest of his cohort”.
As of 2020, the professionalisation of the police service really takes hold, requiring all applicants to have a relevant degree in the field of policing science, prior to joining.
Additionally, those seeking supervisory rank will have to present with an additional post-graduate qualification, such as the MSc that Andy and his cohort have just completed.
The MSc Strategic Policing course is for police officers and staff wanting to enhance their development at masters level, as is developed in consultation with partner forces and the College of Policing to ensure its relevance to contemporary police work.
The course is structured around an online learning system that allows students to study around their work commitments, supported by workshops at the campuses in Carlisle or London.
Andy Wilkinson was presented with his ‘Postgraduate Student of the Year’ award at 3pm on Thursday 23 November. He was one member of the first ever cohort to graduate with an MSc Strategic Policing from the University of Cumbria at this November’s graduation. Other members included Colin Haig, Chief Inspector at Lincolnshire Police, Jim Fitch, Sergeant, Durran Hill, Carlisle, Cumbria Constabulary and Jim Lloyd, Inspector, Head Quarters, Cumbria Constabulary.