A Leicestershire Police officer has graduated with flying colours as part of a program where she earned while she learned.
PC Niamh Harriman was one of 18 police officers who were part of the first cohort to complete the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) in conjunction with De Montfort University.
The three years program offers a route into policing for those who do not have a degree and sees them carry out their police training alongside academic study and work-based assessments.
Those on the course join as police constables from day one but have a longer probationary period. They don’t have to pay for the course and earn between £19,164 and £25,902 within the three years while they work and study. At the end they come out with a higher degree apprenticeship – the equivalent to a degree.
We’re highlighting Niamh’s story as part of National Apprenticeship Week, which runs between February 7 and 13.
Despite not considering herself to be very academic, Niamh received a First-Class Honours degree and graduated from DMU last month.
She knew policing was her dream job from an early age. Dad Kieron is a Sergeant with Leicestershire Police as is her step-mum, and Niamh initially worked as Special Constable before being accepted onto the PCDA.
She said: “I remember getting the call to confirm I was part of first PCDA cohort – it was the best day of my life, it was so surreal I just couldn’t believe it.
“I never particularly wanted to go to university. I knew completing a degree whilst working full time would be difficult but with hard work and determination I have proved that it is possible.
“There were times I didn’t think I would be able to get through it but receiving support from DMU, the force and my family kept me going.
“People have commented on how much my confidence and positivity have improved over the last three years. I’m so proud of what I have achieved and accepting my degree was my proudest moment.”
Niamh, who is a response officer based in the city, wrote her dissertation on the effectiveness of the force’s mental health triage car, with mental health being of keen interest to her. When thinking about her future career plans she would like to explore the firearms and dog units but for now she is happy as a response officer, working with a team she describes as her best friends.
When asked what advice she would give to someone thinking of joining the police via the PCDA route, Niamh added: “I would recommend to give it a go, it might not be for everyone but you’ll never know unless you try.
“If you like a challenge and working as part of a team this could be the role for you. If you’re not academic please don’t let that put you off as anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
“There is so much support on offer from the university and the police, they will help you to achieve your dreams.”
For more information on the PCDA entry route and other roles within Leicestershire Police visit our Join us section on the website.