Early words from one of our Paul McKeever Scholars!

‘At scene’ on the @PMScholarship

This weekend was the first instalment on the eagerly awaited Paul McKeever Scholarship. It took place at its host university: Canterbury Christ Church University, in the heart of what is a very picturesque city. First impressions were that it is twice as expensive for everything down South, but being a far flung Northerner I should probably have expected that!

The first day saw the usual registration rituals and familiarisation sessions. The library facilities were simply awesome, and the IT registration and on campus WiFi were straightforward. The weight of responsibility started to land on our shoulders though as the size of the task at hand began to dawn on us. The structure is two research based assignments, and a 20,000 word research piece in a calendar year. The lecturer on the second day said, ‘So, how long do you have? Two, or three years?’ We all looked at each other nervously, ‘No, it’s just the one…’

Simon Guilfoyle then presented an input on statistical control charts for performance, and the use of targets in Policing. I had seen the input once before, but still really enjoyed it. The lecture hall was packed with Policing BSc students and Simon dealt deftly with many questions over the practical use of targets. He stated at the beginning that the input was ‘counter-culture’, and just from the content of the questions this statement was proved perfectly.

Emma Williams was great as the lead on the course. She’s full of enthusiasm and very approachable. She has every confidence in us as a group of students too, which is reassuring. We all have full time jobs, and we are all distant relatives in role. There are some frontline officers, a College of Policing rep, a Police based academic researcher, an intelligence analyst, and an officer working in the world of mental health. The group is comprised of four females and three males from all over the country, with a varying mix of ages. We seemed to gel quite well over a Thai meal, whilst one of the students serenaded us with some impromptu verses from his latest am-dram musical (@TheBigHon )!

The second day was really the start of ‘business.’ We had some intensive inputs from Tom Cockcroft on how to structure a research proposal. This started with developing the research questions themselves, and finished with a session on the project’s structure. He was great and let us wander off into police culture related discussion as that is one of his areas of interest, before pulling us back into the merits of qualitative/quantitative research. The thing that really stood out for me was the inspiring way he discussed research. He constantly referred to it as a ‘creative’ and ‘exciting’ thing to do. He gave some really great examples of what ‘fieldwork’ actually looked like and described some hairy incidents he had experienced whilst working with Cardiff police. He was passionate about his subject areas, so the full day felt like a few hours to me. I really enjoyed it!

So, now begins the hard work. We have to go away and write a piece on our research proposal. What are we seeking to explore whilst doing this research, and what is the current academic literature around this subject? We have a few months to complete this and the tutors are being really supportive so it doesn’t seem too daunting… yet.

Overall, it was great to meet the fellow PM Scholarship’ers and get a handle on what was to come. There’s the potential for some of this research to do a large amount of good in the world of Policing, and I guess that is felt by the seven of us. It’s the first year that this scholarship has been funded, and its namesake was an influential and well respected man. It’s only right that the work we produce live up to his name.

No pressure!

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