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Nicola Jayne Kitchen

BA Hons Criminology AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE (2015)

The areas of Criminology and Criminal Justice have always been of great interest to me. I opted to study these subjects purely for interest on a part time basis after starting a family, and working part time for Local Government. Once I began studying at local colleges and The Open University, my appetite for knowledge in these areas of study intensified. I knew I wanted to elaborate on my studies within higher education with a view to having a complete career change, when the time was right. Due to family commitments and personal circumstances, I was not in a position to continue studying, however I was reluctant to put my interests on hold, so required something in the areas of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which would give me valuable experience for the future, and serve as confirmation of my passion for my long term employment plans, and importantly, satisfy my ongoing interests.

I was appointed in 2001 to join the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Lancaster Castle. Members of the Board are appointed by the Home Office in a voluntary capacity and reportable to the Home Secretary. Candidates were required to fulfil the essential criteria of being unbiased, unprejudiced and non-discriminatory. I am incredibly proud to have been decreed as this type of individual.  Standards of care, decency, fairness and equality were just some of the areas Board Members were responsible for monitoring. During my appointment, I was fortunate enough to visit various other penal establishments. I attended annual conferences at Keele University and have personally met the then Home Secretary Mr David Blunkett, and various other government officials.

Being employed by Local Government as my occupation, and voluntarily working for the Home Office, I benefited from relevant training courses, such as Equality and Diversity, Race Relations, Prejudice and Discrimination and Customer Relations to name a few. I feel very passionately about any form of injustice. Whilst working at the prison, the complexities of the Criminal Justice System intrigued me. I found the system not to be as straightforward as I had believed it to be, and dealt with many offenders who struggled to understand rules and procedures, and consequently experienced frustration about having to wait for other associated agencies to assemble various reports and documents. I wanted to investigate further how the mechanisms of Criminal Justice System affected individuals in society, and I knew that I could achieve this if I entered higher education.

I applied to become a full time student in 2012, as I had arrived at a time in my life where my circumstances would allow me to fulfil a long waited dream. My children were of an age where I could afford some time for myself without compromising or fulfilling my role as a Mum. September 2012 saw my daughter studying away from home enrolled on her choice of degree course, and my son entering his GCSE years. This new chapter of our lives, allowed me to commence a new venture which I have long desired, and waited patiently for; my degree.

Due to the variety of optional modules on offer, the Criminology and Criminal Justice degree programme at UCLan allows students to make their degree very personal, and students are able to tailor their degree to their personal interests. The teaching staff offered current and topical issues, and the programme steered students to the cutting edge of criminal justice matters. Whilst encouraging independent learning and nurturing students to take responsibility for their own scholarship, tutors were nevertheless always approachable and accessible. These are invaluable skills for good employability and general life skills.

I graduated with a first class Honours degree in June 2015. My undergraduate dissertation was awarded The Best Criminology Dissertation Prize. Additionally, I was awarded the Professor Barbara Hudson Award for an Outstanding Commitment to ‘Doing Justice to Difference’, and the Gaynor Bramhall Prize for Perseverance and Commitment to Scholarship. I had a paper accepted for Diffusion: The UCLan Journal of Undergraduate Research.  Achievements I am incredibly proud of.

I am currently studying for the LLM qualification as a postgraduate student, with Lancashire Law School as my passion for learning has continued to grow.