Moving to a new beat

April 8, 2010

Your article "Now what have we here?" (1 April), which sets out the National Policing Improvement Agency's strategy for increasing the use of new technologies and social science research in partnership with the academy, highlights a sea change.

It contrasts sharply with the days when, for example, Simon Holdaway, a professor who was once a serving police officer, returned from his university secondment to be told by a senior officer: "The last thing I want is men with beards ... We have to get on with policing the ground and haven't time for experiments."

Another example is the case of John Grieve, once deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He was told that his philosophy and psychology degree was "as much good as flower arranging to the Police Service".

One chief superintendent's request for a grant to support a master's degree in law and criminal justice was refused on the grounds that "the officer should concentrate on police work rather than academic studies". And a student of mine, on a police leadership degree, remarked that the programme had "ruined his career in the Police Service" because it made him challenge and question everything.

The changing "cop culture" is well matched by a responsive academy that offers more degree and research programmes that are customised to meet the needs of the Police Service. This partnership could be a model across the public sector. And the student? He is now a superintendent.

John M. Phillips, Award director, MSc in police leadership, Liverpool Hope University.

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