Hi, I am Rob Ewin and I am originally from a farming family. My family work hard for everything they have, and I hope I have lived to these same values in joining the Police.
I have no real idea what drew me to Policing. In fact, I started out doing my work experience at a vet’s surgery and then later obtained engineering qualifications.
At age 19 I began a community volunteer role. My task was to phone victims and understand their experience and quality of service. I found this difficult. The Police is an unusual occupation; you can be loved and hated, loathed and despised, congratulated and rewarded at the same time. It was in this community volunteer role that I understood the value of difference, diversity, hardship and loss. Speaking with people in often difficult moments is not easy. Then at age 20 I joined Cumbria Constabulary as a Special Constable which entailed responding to incidents, crimes and public order alongside regular police colleagues; from there felt that policing was something I enjoyed.
It was during this time that I became aware that the University of Cumbria was beginning to offer degree courses in Policing. I had previously looked at degree courses but felt I did not have the academic privileges of A Levels to apply, however I did have practical experience and had worked in the Police for some time before Dr Maureen Taylor, then a lecturer at the University, spoke to me and supported me to apply.
Doing shift work part-time, and studying full-time, was a tough gig. Looking back, I feel I must have had a time machine to achieve both with equal enthusiasm. Studying did not come naturally, I had to spend time re-reading to gain understanding. This did pay off when I finished my foundation degree with distinction. I then completed a top-up degree. Throughout this, the most challenging thing was maintaining the self-belief that I could continue despite the challenges. This is where the University of Cumbria offered a very flexible but supportive approach to my learning. I had regular discussions with tutors over e-mail and also set up meetings with them to support my progress.
Whilst studying for my top-up degree I also became a Police Officer at this time. Having the foundation degree allowed me to undertake a shorter initial training programme. Cumbria was my local force and it felt a real privilege to police within areas I grew up. Although, this did bring its own challenges. The rurality, visitor population and city life mix were a great experiential start to my career. As my time within policing became more involved, I dealt more and more with people’s lives at often acute and traumatic times. One of these was attending to pass a death message and complete an identification procedure for a man who died whilst walking. I will never forget his family. Their son, deceased, was the same age as me. He had serviced a distinguished military career. I remember leaving the mortuary and sitting in my police vehicle in tears. His family told me so much of his life and I compared it to my own. I felt the desire to continue and be humbly grateful for each day. I developed a deep passion to support, help where I could, and deal with injustice.
I saw the role of Detective as more involved with these complex investigation environments so joined the Criminal Investigation Department. This was distinctly challenging and in completing a number of successful cases I began to see this as both rewarding and interesting work. This was because the cases were much more complex, and the impact on people’s lives was much greater. This was both in terms of the potential sentencing and the rewarding work of achieving justice for victims.
I felt I wanted to continue to study because I loved to learn, and after completing some modules of a master’s degree, I began a PhD looking at some of the complex problems facing vulnerable people. It was my desire to help people, to do more and be grateful for the opportunity that the University of Cumbria provided to me in undertaking further study.
I am now in the very final stages of my PhD. I have been promoted to Detective Sergeant and now work within the force’s major investigation team. I have worked on number of complex investigations including murder, rape and human trafficking. I support the university with associate lecturing, sitting within some steering groups and being involved as a guest speaker at events. This allows students to see a practitioner’s involvement in their learning and boosts the practical applications of their knowledge. I remain humbled at the opportunities afforded to me. To the lecturing staff, those who read and challenge my work, and also those who have enabled me to publish within books and journals – I am forever grateful.
My advice to anyone wanting to become a police officer is you must like dealing with people. All kinds of people from all walks of life. You must understand that inequality exists, some people will challenge you. However, despite any academic qualification, rank, or experience you must always be willing to adapt flexibly and support people. This might be by delivering speed checks to a local village or confronting a prison absconder intent on escape. Policing is a very interesting, demanding and hard job. At times you will want to quit, at other times you will feel euphoria but your resilience to carryon must always shine through. Policing is a great career and if you are unsure about joining then I recommend volunteering is a great insight. Studying a degree in Professional Policing is worthwhile because you can apply this to a number of professions including the National Crime Agency, Policing, Intelligence Services, government, immigration and the private sector.