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Stephen McKellar, MSc Crime Science (2009-2010)

Stephen McKellar

MSc Crime Science

My frustrations with my previous studies with relation to my undergraduate degree in criminology encouraged me to search for a more practical and empirical way of understanding, explaining and tackling crime. I choose to study crime science essentially due to the practical transferable skills the program offered. Specifically the program offered research skills and technical skill related to software such as SPSS and arc GIS that could make me more employable. The crime science programme allowed me to develop my understanding of statistics and  research methods which crucially  allowed me to understand others research, my own, while also giving me the skills to conduct my  own small piece of research.

(Just to reassure, I must admit that to begin with a was terrified and a complete novice when it came to statistics and research methods. I remember contacting Shane and Ruth for help with statistics and SPSS; but  in contrast by the end of the year I was in Kate’s office discussing the fact I wanted to do, and still do, a crime science PhD at some point).

The program and staff can really push you and make you think  understand some complex concepts and underlying philosophies. The staff  are all wonderful, friendly and ever so helpful! They are easy to contact and respond ever so quickly!

Essentially I hoped the research and practical skills would help me secure employment by  allowing me to stand out from the crowd and have some technical training that could be useful. I was interviewed for a position just before the summer of 2010  and they were interested because of  the practical skills and evidenced technical ability. Shortly after the interview I was offered an analysts position.

My current role as an analyst in a fraud intelligence team.  We investigate fraud and have to deal with very sensitive data that is generally not disclosed and protected under the data protection act (1998). Importantly this means I need to analyse large volumes of data, interpret it accurately and make appropriate recommendations. due to the nature of the job it is important to that we accurately interpret our data and make appropriate recommendations..

I have to say that the staff made this one of the most enjoyable, engaging and rewarding experiences of my life. It is challenging but in the end it is worth the hard work.

Chris Davies, MSc Crime Science (2007-09)

Chris Davies

1. Why did you choose to study Crime Science at UCL?
After five years as an Intelligence Analyst I decided that it was time to make a career out it. I was looking for something more than just describing crime based upon my own views and experiences and wanted to find other ways of understanding the phenomena. I wanted to share my experiences with like-minded individuals whilst learn from some of the best academics in the Crime Science field. The JDI provided me with both of these opportunities as well as being situated within one of the best universities in the world.

2. What kind of learning experience did you have (in terms of new skills, facilities, staff support, social aspects)?
UCL is an exceptional university in terms of student support, facilities and teaching. Within this, the JDI is a professional but friendly environment where experiences count as much as academic qualifications.
I had an excellent learning experience throughout my two years Crime Science Masters course. I do not hide the fact that it was incredibly hard work juggling a full time job and having to travel down from the midlands each week for lectures but from the administrative staff through to the department director, everyone made me feel welcome and were supportive of me.
No only have I gained a world class degree but the opportunity to meet and network with respected academics and other professionals has been invaluable. I have also made friendships that will last a lifetime.

3. What is your current role and how do you think your study has assisted you?

I am currently a Crime Analyst with a Police Force in the UK (West Mercia Police).
Studying for an MSc Crime Science with UCL has helped me to professionalise my role as a Crime Intelligence Analyst. The course taught me to understand crime but also to think scientifically about it. I learned valuable research methods and new ways to analyse data with much more rigor.  The qualification no doubt assisted in gaining a recent secondment to the Home Office’s Research and Analysis program.

4. What are your future plans?

I will continue to push the message of Crime Science as a viable method for crime reduction and maybe the future will see me take on a crime or security related Phd. The different methods of policing fascinate me and maybe I will seek a role in a different criminal environment to try out my crime reduction and analysis ideas.
I am very pro-analysis and will continue to support and mentor those interested in learning the techniques of Crime Science.

Emma Rogerson, MSc Crime Science (2008-09)

Emma Rogerson

1. Why did you choose to study Crime Science at UCL?
The decision to study crime science stemmed from my undergraduate degree through crime modules I had partaken in.  During this time I developed a keen interest in this domain and wanted to further my skills and breadth of knowledge. The opportunity to learn computer software packages and acquire technical skills within this sphere also attracted me to crime science.

2. What kind of learning experience did you have (in terms of new skills, facilities, staff support, social aspects)?

My leaning experience at the Jill Dando Institute was excellent. I acquired a variation of new skills as I decided to concentrate my MSc in previously unknown areas to myself. For example I selected modules which utilised and focused on analysing crime using computer packages such as SPSS and ArcGIS to name a few.
The facilities and staff support were also excellent. If software needed to be used from home you could remotely log into UCLs network and access it, if you needed reading material there was extensive access to several libraries and finally but certainly not least if you needed help with anything there was always someone in the department who was more than willing to help and support you.

As far as social aspects go I would commemorate anyone who could manage one of these and an MSc I certainly could not. Not having an especially hectic social life during this time though was more than worth it and I would not change a thing.   

3. What did you go on to do as a job and how do you feel your Crime Science course aided you in securing this position?
Since completing my study I was actively seeking employment and now work for KPMG as a Forensic Analyst within their Risk and Compliance sector. Although this is not a role which is directly linked to crime science, without it I would have never achieved such an amazing career as I have.

Selecting specific modules which taught me computer software packages such as SPSS and ArcGIS, learning research methods, giving presentations and the sheer challenge of crime science and the problem solving it demands are all factors which aided my success in securing my ideal career.

Other non-specific knowledge attributes I acquired through the MSc which have proven to be vital to my current success are that of time management, which was learnt through having to manage the copious different deadlines that were expected of all students on a monthly basis. Perseverance was another key factor which I learnt throughout my time studying here and has gone on to serve me well whilst searching for a career in the current economy, as I am proof that if you do persevere you will achieve the result you desire. 

4. What are your future plans?
The future plan is to carry on working for KPMG and travel the world with them learning as many new skill sets as possible as they offer excellent travel opportunities and training. Hopefully then in a few years I will be in a position to be promoted into a role where I can give other graduates of similar backgrounds the same opportunity and train them and help them pursue their goals.

Shaymoly Mukerhjee, MSc Crime Science (2007-08)

1.    Why did you choose to study Crime Science at UCL?
I had just completed an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and was unsure of where to go afterwards. I wanted a job in law enforcement, and the natural progression was to go down the forensic science route, but I didn’t want to work in a laboratory.  The MSc appealed to me as it amalgamated a variety of subjects (geography, psychology, criminology and statistics to name a few) I found interesting, but still utilised the scientific thinking skills that I had acquired during my undergraduate.

2. What kind of learning experience did you have (in terms of new skills, facilities, staff support, social aspects)?

The MSc is multi-displinary so there’s always something in there that a student is good at.  I particularly enjoyed the applied research methods course, which is really useful in my current role.  The essay writing is probably one of the hardest parts of the course but the skills I’ve learnt assist me when writing reports for my current job.

Our year group included practitioners who were carrying out the masters part-time, students who had just finished an undergraduate degree, and people taking a career break to study the masters.  This meant there was a wide range of skills and different life experiences that everyone could benefit from when completing group tasks. The people that I met from the course are valuable contacts to have in the sector, and also good to meet up with for a night out!

The staff support was incredible.  They were really helpful and encouraged you through the whole process.  

3. What did you go on to do as a job and how do you feel your Crime Science course aided you in securing this position?
After I finished the masters I secured a job in the Metropolitan Police Service as Performance Analyst in the Performance Information Bureau, with an aim of going on to be an Intelligence Analyst.  I’m now an Intelligence Analyst working for Southwark Borough in their Intelligence Unit. The MSc helped in securing my role as an intelligence analyst as in my interview I drew upon the Routine Activity Triangle to explain crime problems.

The courses in the masters that have really made a difference in what I do are Applied Research Methods and Research Methods.  It helped me understand how to analyse data, the problems and limitations of different types of data, and how to analyse crime geographically.

4. What are your future plans?

I’d like to stay in the law enforcement arena and build upon the skills that I learnt at JDI. Also, I’d like to enhance the links between JDI and where I currently work, as what we do now, depends on the research completed by the department.

Katie Mannell, MSc Crime Science (2007-2008)

Kati Mannell

1. Why did you choose to study Crime Science at UCL?

I graduated from UCL with a Psychology degree in 2005 and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do career wise, which is why I started to look into further education.  I had always had a strong interest in crime prevention and wanted a job where I could make a difference and when I saw the Crime Science MSc on the UCL website it excited me because it seemed perfectly suited to my interests and a subject completely different to anything I’d seen before.  When I did a bit more research I saw that the MSc at the Jill Dando Institute was the only one of it’s kind in the country.  I explored all the information about the course and the different modules and was fascinated by the idea that crime can be facilitated by environmental factors and that changing certain elements can have a dramatic impact on crime levels.  The course appeared to cover a wide variety of topics and I liked the multi-faceted approach that used elements of Psychology, Sociology, Criminology, Biology, Philosophy, Geography and many others.  I was also attracted by the fact that I already knew UCL is a top university with good facilities in the heart of the capital.  I joined the course in September 2007 after completing a year’s work experience within a crime prevention setting.

2. What kind of learning experience did you have (in terms of new skills, facilities, staff support, social aspects)?

The Crime Science course was an absolutely amazing experience and one of the best things I have ever done to further my career.  For starters, it was a brilliant networking opportunity.  Both the tutors and fellow students were fantastic-everyone was really friendly and always willing to go that extra step to offer assistance using their expertise.  The course comprised of both full and part-time students, which meant there was a wealth of different backgrounds and experiences to draw upon within the lectures.  The staff had a great in depth knowledge of the subject and were always available to answer questions.  Sometimes there were guest lecturers who had specialist knowledge in detection methods or the geography of crime, which helped to make a captivating subject even more interesting.  The course was great for socialising, as the class size was much smaller than at degree level so we would all go out together and celebrate things such as Christmas and the end of exams.  The JDI also held various networking events, which facilitated the social aspect.
In terms of learning, the course was brilliant as it gave me so much knowledge in terms of theories of crime and prevention and I was left always wanting to know more examples of successful techniques.  Every lecture was exciting and taught me to think about crime in a different way in terms of the causes and how some simple changes can have a dramatic impact on crime levels.  The debates and seminars opened me up to new ideas and perspectives that I’d not previously thought of and I was able to see that there isn’t always a right or wrong answer, just different viewpoints.  The course also developed my skills in SPSS and statistical techniques that I had learnt in my degree.  As I completed the full time course, which was concentrated into a year, it taught me to be more organised and develop my planning skills so that I could complete my coursework by the deadlines and still fit in a part time job to support my studies.  I would describe my time on the course as exciting and interesting, albeit intensive – it is definitely for someone with a strong interest in crime and who is passionate about prevention.

3. What did you go on to do as a job and how do you feel your Crime Science course aided you in securing this position?

I have been working as a crime analyst on the Serious Sexual Offences desk in the central intelligence unit of the Metropolitan Police since January 2009.  I feel that the Crime Science course has been fundamental in me obtaining this role for two reasons.  Firstly, when I began the MSc I had an interest in being a crime analyst but I wasn’t sure if it was the right job for me.  Then the JDI held a careers event, where somebody from the Met spoke about the job role and it sounded really appealing because unlike other forces, there were different focus desks to work on, which meant you could specialise in an area of interest.  It sounded like the perfect opportunity to apply the techniques and theory from the course to real life crime situations to have an impact on crime prevention.  Through being on the course, we were given advance warning of when the job was advertised, as they would only review the first 600 applicants.
The other way in which the Crime Science MSc assisted me goes back to the fantastic networking opportunities afforded by the course.  I had chosen to do my dissertation on stranger rape, as this was an area I had developed a prevention interest in after working with sex offenders in a previous role.  I was having difficulty obtaining data but a fellow student who already worked for the Met put me in touch with the manager of the Serious Sexual Offences desk.  I had the data I needed within a week and it reflects how strong the networking prospects are on the course.  Following my successful application for the general crime analyst role, I was contacted by the manager of the Serious Sexual Offences desk who informed me they had a vacant position on the desk and would I be interested as they had been impressed by my dissertation proposal, which clearly showed I had a strong interest and knowledge in the subject area.  I said yes immediately as it was such a fantastic chance to go straight into a central unit where I could specialise from the outset in an area I had always been passionate about.  Now I am in a role that I would never have been in if it wasn’t for my Crime Science dissertation and the contacts I met on the course.  I absolutely love the job, especially when I get the chance to apply my Crime Science knowledge in the form of recommendations to impact on crime.

4. What are your future plans?

At the moment I am happy to keep developing in my current role as there is so much to learn and every day is different.  I am lucky as there are many different jobs within the Met where I could apply my experiences from the MSc, so if I chose to change roles in the future, I would have a wealth of options.  I intend to apply my knowledge to do some free lance writing in the area of Crime Science as it is a subject that fascinates me and I would like to continue to learn about the latest developments.

Danielle Reynald, MSc Crime Science (2004-05)

Danielle Reynauld

1.    Why did you choose to study Crime Science at UCL?

The Crime Science programme at UCL caught my attention because it represented a fresh, unique approach to the study of crime and its prevention using practical, evidence-based methods. After completing a BSc in Psychology, I was in search of a postgraduate programme that would allow me to apply my knowledge of psychology while simultaneously developing my expertise in other new but related disciplines. So the Crime Science programme was especially attractive because of its inter-disciplinary approach—drawing on knowledge from disciplines that included psychology, criminology, geography and forensic s—to develop a holistic view of the crime event and the opportunities that facilitate it.  

2.    What kind of learning experience did you have (in terms of new skills, facilities, staff support, social aspects)?

The entire teaching staff was always warm, approachable and very supportive, and the facilities that were available to students in general were first class. The varying backgrounds of the students on the course also contributed to the dynamic learning environment, with classes often comprising a mix of professionals and recent graduates. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of the course was definitely the acquisition of crime analysis skills, including the use of GIS and crime mapping techniques.

3. What did you go on to do as a job and how do you feel your Crime Science course aided you in securing this position?

After completing the MSc in Crime Science, I went on to do a PhD in Criminology at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime & Law Enforcement (NSCR ) in Amsterdam, and I’m now a Researcher and Lecturer at the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Griffith University in Brisbane,  Australia. The Crime Science course was an integral aspect of securing both positions, not just as a result of the knowledge-base and skills I acquired on the course, but also because of the contacts I was able to develop in the field of Criminology and Crime Science through my lecturers. I can definitely say that my Crime Science course paved the way for my current career path.

4. What are your future plans?

I feel like I have my dream job right now doing a combination of teaching and research. So my plan for the immediate future is to continue lecturing and sharing my enthusiasm for Crime Science and Environmental Criminology as a whole, and to continue my research in the area of crime prevention.

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Page last modified on 05 nov 10 09:27