Case study

Neighbourhood police officer — Andrew Grant

Throughout his police officer training, Andrew developed the key skills needed to carry out effective policing. He is now relishing the rewards and challenges of his new responsibilities

What degree did you study?

I studied for a BSc Hons Business Management at the University of Surrey, graduating in 2014 and then completed an MSc Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2018.

How did you get your job?

I joined Thames Valley Police through a graduate entry route called Police Now and am enrolled on the two-year National Graduate Leadership Programme for neighbourhood policing.

What's a typical day like?

When not dealing with victims or suspects of reported crimes, I'm looking at ongoing issues in the area, engaging with members of the community or providing reassurance by way of patrols or attendance at meetings.

Typical activities include going out on mobile patrol by car, foot or bike, responding to reports of immediate crime, attending meetings and completing paperwork.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There is a perception that a police officer's role is filled with action, chases, interesting investigations and, ultimately, justice for victims. In practice, this element is certainly there, and I would be lying if I said I didn't find it immensely exciting.

Nonetheless, in practice I have also found more subtle rewards. Throughout our training, the importance of a positive first police experience for members of the public was an underlying theme. I have found that these positive interactions can come from unexpected places - conversations with suspects, for example.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenge for me, but one I have relished, has been the immediate level of responsibility placed on candidates straight out of training. Ultimately, however, this challenge is simply a stage which every new recruit goes through. Appreciating that it would be impossible to become fully grounded in the job in weeks (or months) has allowed me to embrace my first six months as a very fast-paced and valuable learning experience.

In what way is your degree relevant?

On paper, neither of my degrees may seem particularly relevant to a career in front-line policing. I can certainly see my business degree being relevant, though, should I eventually move up into a senior role, particularly with the ongoing necessity to justify certain decisions with 'business case' proposals.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

For now, I am simply enjoying immersing myself in the job - learning new technical skills, gaining varied experience and making new contacts. Passing my initial training and ten-week probation period was a significant milestone to feeling comfortable in the job.

The next goal is to continue on-the-job learning past the stage of 'competent beginner', from which I will be in a better position to decide where I may want to specialise. My primary aim over the next few years is to develop the foundations from which I can have a lifelong career in the police.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

Don't overthink it. Find a degree you're interested in, at a university you like. Had I considered the relevance of my Masters degree to a career in policing, then I would have likely let the opportunity pass me by. However, I met friends for life, learned about a topic that interested me and gained a further qualification along the way.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Speak to current officers - not only will this give you a greater insight into the job, but it may help you prepare for the application process.
  • Work on your physical fitness - there is a standard entry-requirement for fitness levels, but surpassing this will only enhance your ability to deal with certain elements of the job.
  • Understand that it isn't like in the movies - like all jobs, there are up-days and down-days. This is amplified, however, when dealing with very tangible real-life issues affecting real-life people. An appreciation of the pressure that some situations may put you under will leave you better prepared to perform well in challenging circumstances.

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