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Michaela Preddy, Staff Q&A

BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminal Investigation Course Leader

How long have you been at UCLan?

I’ve been at UCLan for two-and-a-half years. Prior to that I was in the Lancashire Constabulary as a Police Officer for 20 years.

What kind of experiences did you have in the police?

I was only 22 when I joined the police, I went straight in from university as a graduate. I started as a probationer in uniform and I drove around the streets whilst doing neighbourhood policing. I worked in a big team at Blackpool as well - I encountered quite a diverse mix of crime and different backgrounds of individuals that I was dealing with. I then progressed and went on to being a detective, I was also on the public protection unit. At that point, I was working quite a lot within child protection.

After that, I then changed direction and went to work on the counter-terrorism branch. There I worked as part of the North West counter-terrorism unit within Lancashire and I was based at the airports. We did a lot of intelligence gathering, interviewing and suspected terrorist threats up and down the country involving quite a few high-profile terrorist investigations.

After eight years in that role, I became a domestic violence investigator here in Preston working on the public protection unit. I then decided on a complete career change and decided to go into teaching here at UCLan.

What made you decide on that career change?

There were a number of factors really; I was thoroughly enjoying my job within the police but I then felt that I had perhaps seen enough of that and I wanted to share my experiences. I knew of the course here at UCLan and was really impressed by the facilities. I also saw the direction for young graduates now in professionalising the police and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be involved with the future development of policing, share the experiences that I and the other staff here have. I hope, in a way, to help shape the future in terms of what police officers going forward may well look like.

What benefits can students have in terms of joining the police through a graduate programme?

By 2020, the College of Policing are recommending that every person that joins the police should have a level 6 qualification i.e. a bachelor’s degree. Within the Policing and Criminal Investigation course that we offer here, we teach a number of law modules and we look at the different styles of investigation including the specialisms that are involved. These include cyber-crime, counter-terrorism, crimes involving exploitation and fraud investigation to name just a few. Those are the kind of skills and specialisms that I anticipate future police officers and those interested in an investigative career will require. If they come onto this course and then choose a career within the police, graduates will have received a good foundation and sound well-rounded base to know how investigations are ran, consider court processes and explore evidence gathering involved in more serious and complex investigations.

What kind of feedback have you had from graduates in the past?

We have a large cohort here at UCLan. Our courses have anywhere between 80 and 100 students on the undergraduate programme. We then offer a number of master's programmes which specialise in different areas such as Cyber Crime, Financial Investigation. Within all of this, the students themselves have said that they’ve found that studying here has not only been an advantage going into policing but has also allowed them to consider a variety of careers. Approximately 40% of our graduates consider a career in the police but the majority are look at a career perhaps within the private sector such as fraud investigation. The course would equip with skills for a career in the Probation Service, National Crime Agency, private sector cyber-crime or the financial sector within fraud investigations, the list is endless. Studying BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminal Investigation at UCLan doesn’t necessarily pigeon hole them into a career into the police force so with the diverse course content, we are able to give them this opportunity.

What kind of opportunities are available to policing students?

We work very closely with the forensic science team, so the students study a number of forensic modules in the first and second year. They are given the opportunity to shadow a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) as part of the Lancashire Forensic Science Academy through UCLan’s partnership with Lancashire Police. They also have the opportunity in the second year to go on an Erasmus exchange programme. In the second semester of the second year, they can choose to go to a number of European countries along opportunities to study in Australia and the USA as well. The students study similar policing or law based modules that are compatible with the PCI course. In terms of CV building, it enhances employability for them clearly, because it allows them to see how other cultures live and the different issues that foreign police forces face. Students often come back from these experiences really well-rounded and more confident, which I know from employers is a big tick. Alongside these opportunities, we also actively encourage students to take on volunteering roles such as to join the police specials constabulary. We help support students through the application process alongside their studies.

What support is given to students if they choose to study abroad?

They are guided through the entire process before they go. Often a number of students from the course choose to go to the same country, so it’s also very rare that they would go on their own, they have a group of peers as a support network as well. Tutors also go out and visit them in the country of their choice during that period to ensure there aren’t any issues and we are always in email contact if required. Our partner institutions abroad are very supportive terms of helping with funding and accommodation or any other welfare needs.

What’s the mix of support and independent study like on this course?

Clearly at university, students are required to do more independent study than they perhaps would have been used to at their further education college or school. However, all of the lecturers on this course operate on an open-door policy and offer support when needed.  Each student is assigned an academic advisor who stays with them throughout their time at university where welfare issues are also addressed alongside academic support. The students have feedback that the PCI team are all friendly and approachable and we’re here to help them.

For anyone looking at coming to UCLan to study Police and Criminal Investigation, what would your advice be to them?

Come and see us! Feel free to come and see what we have to offer at one the Open Days. We have some fantastic facilities, such as the Hydra Immersive Learning Suite where the students deal with realistic experiences and scenarios that they can learn through. With our varied and extensive modular course, coupled with a team of experienced academic staff, we feel we have a fantastic undergraduate learning programme. It’s a unique course, we all enjoy being here and we look forward to seeing anyone who wants to be a part of UCLan.

18 June 2018