Criminals could soon find themselves collared by some of the brightest coppers in the land as new police training arrangements with universities herald the prospect of bobbies on the beat progressing to PhD level.
Universities are snapping up the chance to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds educating new police recruits, following a national move to decentralise police training.
The first wave of trainees, known as police probationers, will take up places in the new year on a training course at Glamorgan University, while other police employees will begin a masters of public administration programme at Cardiff University.
An agreement with South Wales Police will allow Cardiff and Glamorgan universities to create a Universities Police Science Institute later in the year, where training will be integrated with research.
The institute will build on existing interdisciplinary research at Cardiff on areas such as crime and disorder re-education initiatives, resettlement of short-term prisoners and substance abuse.
A spokesman for Cardiff University said the institute was a unique initiative that would allow university and police force partners to develop a range of professional development, degree and postgraduate-level courses and doctorates.
"It is possible that this will open the way for senior police officers in the future to progress to PhD level," he added.
Police probationers from West Mercia Constabulary will join a new two-year foundation degree course in professional policing at the University of Teesside in April.
The course combines practical police training with academic work, covering criminal investigation, responding to and managing incidents, and reassuring and protecting the community.
A Teesside spokesman said successful trainees would have the option to progress onto honours degrees such as a BSc in investigative studies, and on to postgraduate-level study.
Project manager for West Mercia, Inspector Jacky Smith, said: "The course was developed to meet Home Office requirements for newly recruited police officers to be trained and educated within the communities that they will serve."