Twenty officers at Nottinghamshire Police are among the first in the country to achieve a degree while working on the front line.
The force made history in 2018 when it joined forces with the University of Derby to offer a brand new route into policing – the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship.
The pioneering programme was established after entry requirements to policing were changed to make it compulsory for new recruits to have a degree-level qualification.
To ensure the force did not miss out on driven and talented individuals without a degree, Nottinghamshire Police partnered with Derbyshire Constabulary and the University of Derby to establish the degree apprenticeship.
The three-year course enables successful applicants to be employed by either police force and work towards a BA (Hons) degree in professional policing practice while undergoing their core officer training.
The first cohort graduated at a ceremony held at Derby Arena on Wednesday morning (17 November), followed by a celebration event at Derby Conference Centre.
Remarkably, half of the 20 Nottinghamshire police constables graduated with first-class honours.
Senior lecturer Mark Flint-Freel, who leads the professional policing practice course at the University of Derby, said: “It’s amazing. To have half of the candidates achieve first-class honours is unprecedented and testament to the amount of hard work they put in.
“At the start, some of the officers didn’t have the necessary qualifications in Maths and English. They’ve had to work towards achieving those qualifications alongside working on the policing front line and completing the academic work, which included a 10,000 word dissertation. They then had to balance all that with everyday family life so their achievements are remarkable.
“For me personally, it has been absolutely phenomenal to see the journey they have all been on. I’m proud of them and I’m proud of the programme. It’s been so successful that other police forces are now replicating what we’re doing with Nottinghamshire Police and Derbyshire Constabulary.”
The three-year degree apprenticeship covered areas that are critical to effective policing in the 21st century, such as evidence-based policing, supporting vulnerable people and dealing with cyber crime and crime prevention.
Among the Nottinghamshire graduates who achieved a First was PC Alan Cook (pictured), who said: “The apprenticeship journey has been a very difficult one, purely because we are the first cohort that have ever been through the PCDA. But there’s been a lot of support around us from our trainers in the police force and the university lecturers.
“Through those challenges and through those difficulties, we’ve come through to graduate here today. And now we are not only fully fledged police constables, but also graduate holders. The opportunity to get the career that I wanted, and also get a degree is something I think is fantastic.”
The degree apprenticeship runs over three years. Eighty per cent of the course is spent completing on-the-job learning and the other 20 per cent involves academic study.
Officers rotate around key departments in their second year and were able to apply for specialisms in their third year.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford, who attended the ceremony to congratulate the graduates, said he was delighted to see the first cohort complete the programme.
He said: “We introduced the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship to provide an exciting opportunity for driven and talented individuals from a variety of different backgrounds to obtain a degree whilst working and earning.
“We are keen to become an employer of choice and by working closely with the university, who we already have a fantastic working relationship with, we are attracting people into Nottinghamshire Police who may not have previously thought of having a career with us.
“This first cohort included candidates that had just finished school, Special Constables, single mothers and those changing careers. It is fantastic to see them graduate and I congratulate them all on their success.”
Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Derby, added: “I am thrilled for this cohort of students to be graduating after all their hard work, and paving the way for more students to become police officers through the apprenticeship route.
“This programme is unique in that it enables students to access this career path, getting an insight into the force that they are working in, and experiencing lots of different departments within the organisation in order to inform their future decisions about what they wanted to do. Congratulations to all our graduates!”