“It gave me an essential understanding of the day-to-day functioning of the criminal justice system and built my knowledge of how difficult situations can be dealt with effectively.”
– Sadie O’Kine
Applied Criminology graduate Sadie O’Kine has secured her dream job – helping to transform the lives of offenders on probation.
As a Work and Learning Officer/Mentor Co-ordinator for Derbyshire Probation Trust, Sadie’s role is to support and encourage the positive development of people who are on probation and ultimately to reduce re-offending.
“My studies were driven by my strong ambition to work with offenders, people who are at risk of offending, and victims of crime – and to have a positive influence on their lives,” says Sadie. “Now I’m in a job that I absolutely love.”
Having completed a BTEC National Diploma in Uniformed Public Services at Derby College, she knew she wanted to study criminology at degree level to learn more about issues such as the root causes of crime, crime scene investigation and the different agencies involved in the criminal justice system.
She comments: “As soon as I attended the open day at the University of Derby, I recognised that the Law and Criminology staff were passionate about their work and had both advanced knowledge and first-hand experience of the criminal justice system. The friendliness and helpful nature of the lecturers was an added bonus: all of these factors sold the course to me straight away.”
Sadie praises the BSc (Hons) Applied Criminology for the sheer variety of opportunities it presents – from visiting prisons and attending live court hearings to taking part in a mock murder inquiry. “It gave me an essential understanding of the day-to-day functioning of the criminal justice system and built my knowledge of how difficult situations can be dealt with effectively.”
Equally valuable was the chance to meet practitioners from agencies such as the Probation Service, Youth Offending Service, Police Service and Prison Service who gave regular guest lectures showing how practice and theory are connected and applied within the workplace.
The University’s strong connections with these leading professionals enabled Sadie to make informal contacts which opened doors to rewarding volunteering opportunities. During her degree studies, she seized the chance to volunteer for two years to support vulnerable young people. Her voluntary work as a mentor for Derbyshire Probation Trust helped her through the organisation’s rigorous recruitment process to clinch her current job.
She admits that the course was “very challenging” at times. “Occasionally I seriously questioned my capability to handle any further studies but my lecturers were always at hand to calm me down, give me the support and advice that I needed, and empower me with their confidence in my ability. I still have contact with some of my lecturers – I’m very thankful for the dedication they show to their students.”
In her role with the Interventions: Education, Training and Employment team at the Probation Trust, Sadie has split responsibilities as a Work and Learning Officer and as a Mentor Co-ordinator, working in Derby, Ilkeston and Chesterfield.
Her job includes risk assessments and providing ongoing support, advice and guidance to help increase the employability of offenders with multiple needs who face many barriers in the current labour market. She uses her skills, knowledge and initiative to determine what support each service user needs, such as CV development, job searching or interview skills. She also works closely with various partners to ensure she can connect service users with education and employment agencies within the community.
Sadie concludes: “My learning at the University of Derby definitely helped me secure my job and still assists me now in my day-to-day work, especially as I can refer to theories, information and reports that I have previously analysed during my studies.”
“I would recommend studying at the University of Derby, as it has really good facilities and the staff are very dedicated - willing to help at any time during the day.”
“My course was extremely interesting. It built my knowledge of theories used within the criminal justice system and provided me with opportunities to gain first-hand experiences of different criminal agency work.”
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An international perspective
We are committed to studying in the field. One group of students recently visited criminal justice agencies in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with highlights including visits to San Quentin State Prison and gang projects in LA, a day spent with San Francisco Police Department and the chance to meet students from California State University.