First Cohort of Police Constables in the country graduate from University of Derby

18 November 2021

The first cohort of students has graduated from the Police Constable Degree Apprentice (PCDA) scheme at the University of Derby, the first in the country to offer the course.

36 students, who started the new course in 2018, attended their graduation award ceremony at Derby Arena followed by a celebration event at the University.

In 2016, the College of Policing responsible for the training of all officers, announced that by 2020, all new recruits would have to achieve a degree in policing. With the new entry requirements in mind, the University of Derby worked with Nottinghamshire Police and Derbyshire Constabulary to establish the Police Constable Apprenticeship ready to launch in 2018, so that driven and talented individuals could gain a degree whilst working and earning.

The three-year course is split with 80% of student’s time spent completing on-the-job learning and uploading evidence of this to an e-portfolio, and the other 20% is academic study for a Bachelors Degree in Professional Policing Practice.

Speaking about the course, graduate Alan Cook said: “The apprenticeship journey has been a very difficult one. Purely because we are the first cohort that have ever been through the PCDA. But there’s been a lot of support around us from our trainers in the police force and the university lecturers.

“Through those challenges and through those difficulties, we’ve come through to graduate here today. And now we are not only fully fledged police constables, but also graduate holders. The opportunity to get the career that I wanted, and also get a degree is something I think is fantastic.”

Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Derby, added: “I am thrilled for this cohort of students to be graduating after all their hard work, and paving the way for more students to become police officers through the apprenticeship route.

“This programme is unique in that it enables students to access this career path, getting an insight into the force that they are working in, and experiencing lots of different departments within the organisation in order to inform their future decisions about what they wanted to do. Congratulations to all our graduates!”

Senior lecturer in Policing Practice Mark Flint-Freel, leads the professional policing practice course at the University of Derby. He added: “It’s amazing. To have half of the candidates achieve first-class honours is unprecedented and testament to the amount of hard work they put in.

“At the start, some of the officers didn’t have the necessary qualifications in Maths and English. They’ve had to work towards achieving those qualifications alongside working on the policing front line and completing the academic work, which included a 10,000 word dissertation. They then had to balance all that with everyday family life so their achievements are remarkable.

“For me personally, it has been absolutely phenomenal to see the journey they have all been on. I’m proud of them and I’m proud of the programme. It’s been so successful that other police forces are now replicating what we’re doing with Nottinghamshire Police and Derbyshire Constabulary.”

Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police Craig Guildford, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of the University on the same day the students graduated, said he was delighted to see the first cohort complete the programme: “We introduced the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship to provide an exciting opportunity for driven and talented individuals from a variety of different backgrounds to obtain a degree whilst working and earning.

“We are keen to become an employer of choice and by working closely with the university, who we already have a fantastic working relationship with, we are attracting people into Nottinghamshire Police who may not have previously thought of having a career with us.

“This first cohort included candidates that had just finished school, Special Constables, single mothers and those changing careers. It is fantastic to see them graduate and I congratulate them all on their success.”

Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary Rachel Swann added: “It has been my pleasure to be a part of the first Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, working in partnership with the University of Derby and Nottinghamshire police. I am proud of each and every one of you for not only completing this degree through a pandemic but achieving either a first-class honours or a 2:1 as well as being an operational police officer, this shows that you are committed, determined and resilient, all of which are important attributes in being a police officer.

“I want to also say a thank you to the University of Derby who worked tirelessly in successfully delivering this course to the students, without you, this would not be the course that it is today and I am looking forward to continue this relationship in the future.”

Find out more about the Police Constable Degree Apprentice (PCDA) scheme at the University of Derby here.

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