Paige is studying for a doctorate in intelligence and law enforcement in the Department of Sociology and writes that "my overall experience since being here at Surrey has been remarkable!". Read more to find out why...
‘A Critical Examination of the Operation of Intelligence Processes within UK Police Forces’
My first impression of the University of Surrey was the beauty of the grounds and they were a key factor during my decision process – especially for someone who spent four years at an off-campus university. I really enjoyed the sense of privacy and safety that the University of Surrey offers.
Whilst I was looking around the campus I saw posters and signs that stated in bold writing that the University was recognised as an ‘outstanding’ institution when it received a prestigious gold award for the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). At that moment I knew that I needed to be part of this institution and really wanted its support in preparing me for my future.
The expertise that was offered by the Department of Sociology was also important to me. I knew that I needed expert knowledge for such a niche area of study [intelligence processes within the UK police].
The University also offered not only a PhD office space but also our own private space at the top of the library dedicated for PhD candidates which is important to our community. Again, this was important to me when deciding at which University I wished to complete my PhD.
I am an alumna of the University of Portsmouth where I spent four years studying both my undergraduate and masters degree. My bachelors was in Criminology and Criminal Justice, my masters was in Crime Science, Investigations and Intelligence.
I chose to study a PhD as it was always a goal of mine back to when I first went to university. I knew this path would help me continue my research in a field that I am most passionate about.
I knew I needed supervisors who have a level of good understanding and conducted research within my area of specialist interest. When deciding which university I was going to choose to study my PhD at, I remember writing down all the pros and cons in my notebook to help make a decision.
I remember sitting in my office at home and I just had one more question to ask my now supervisors at Surrey. I picked up the phone knowing that the answer was going to be the deciding factor between Surrey and another university which had also offered me a place. I asked my supervisors why they wanted to supervise my research... The response was assuring, and the rest is history. I made the right decision studying here and I couldn’t be happier.
"I made the right decision studying here and I couldn’t be happier"
During the Second World War my great-grandfather worked for Bletchley Park where they cracked the code and after learning about this whilst growing up, I began to question the law enforcement community and why we have intelligence failures such as 9/11, the 7/7 bombings despite having great techniques and systems in place to assist decision-making. During intelligence lectures given by police personnel and other law enforcement practitioners at University, I questioned the individuals’ techniques and the reliability of frameworks such as the National Intelligence Model which all 43 police forces utilise. I wondered whether these frameworks indeed support the intelligence community or hinder the decision-making process. My passion continued and I started looking at the cognitive processes during decision-making in comparison to the operation of intelligence.
My supervisors are Professors Karen Bullock and Jon Garland and both continue to push me in the right direction, suggesting conferences I should attend, inviting me to professional meetings, publication collaborations, and to go abroad and work with law enforcement agencies in another country. They support me and care about my wellbeing.
I used various facilities and resources whilst at Surrey. These include:
- The Doctoral College
- Conferences, e.g. the National Analyst Conference (UK), The Evidence-Based Policing conference
- The College of Policing
- Organisations across the world
- Networking events, e.g. City of London Policing events; living and working in Canada for three months with law enforcement and academics
"There have been many opportunities for collaborations during my PhD with researchers and academics at Surrey, with external organisations and companies"
There have been many opportunities for collaborations during my PhD with researchers and academics at Surrey, with external organisations and companies. I have recently published with other colleagues in the Department of Politics and also at Canterbury Christ University with one of my supervisors after completing a research study. At the the Doctoral College I spoke with three professors who also provided insightful techniques – there is always someone there willing to help.
I have enjoyed the feeling of knowing I am adding to the existing literature on intelligence, intelligence-led policing, the National Intelligence Model, and my voice is being heard. After publishing, the response from practitioners is overwhelming! People tell me that they agree, they face the same issues, they praise you and your work and tell you this research is needed – it’s a wonderful feeling!
Whilst I have been at Surrey, I have passed my Teaching Certificate to help with future employment and had conversations with my supervisors who have put me in touch with individuals within the field. In addition, thanks to extensive networking, I have received career support outside of Surrey which has been beneficial and tailored to what future employers are seeking.
I like to think that my time at Surrey has a positive impact on my employability once I graduate from the PhD. This experience has taught me a lot not only about the subject but about myself: how to hold a conversation with stakeholders and individuals in senior positions, how to articulate my thoughts and opinions, and finally what I can achieve and have achieved.
"I truly feel that my supervisors are my biggest cheerleaders – always encouraging me to get involved in conferences, networking, jobs, publications and for the past three years, have been so positive towards my work."
There have been so many best moments at Surrey, and they have all been equally brilliant. Working with both my supervisors has been extraordinary and the trust they have in me and my work is incredible.
I have been in positions before where I have met individuals at a conference or on other projects and they know of me due to my supervisors talking about the work I am doing – it just shows how supportive they are of my research.
I truly feel that they are my biggest cheerleaders – always encouraging me to get involved in conferences, networking, jobs, publications and for the past three years, have been so positive towards my work.
They have made this experience so enjoyable, and I will forever be in debt to them both.
Advice for future postgraduate students?
Go for it! It will be a difficult process and somewhat different from any other degree you have studied before, but you are more than capable of achieving the goals you set yourself.
- Be organised
- Set yourself deadlines each month
- You are in a partnership with your supervisors so make sure you communicate with them and inform them of decisions you are making whether that’s regarding your career, getting involved in conferences and or publications
- Trust the process
I really enjoy conducting research, so I plan to continue this by working within academia. I would also like to continue to sit on policing boards and work closely with law enforcement agencies, consulting them on the operation of intelligence.
It is sad that my journey is nearly coming to an end next year as I really have enjoyed this experience. For those who are reading my student profile and are considering whether Surrey is the right place for them, I would strongly encourage you to come visit the campus and enjoy everything that it has to offer.