ONE of Cumbria's most senior police officers has graduated with an MSc degree in Strategic Policing from the University of Cumbria.

Assistant chief constable Andrew Slattery said his two-year studies had allowed him to "step out of that operational side of things and come back to the fundamental issues about why we do what we do, the role of the police and ethical issues.”

The 52-year-old accepted his Master of Science award at a ceremony at Carlisle Cathedral. He picked up his scroll 29 years after graduating from Lancaster University with a degree in sociology.

Mr Slattery is now mentoring three other high-ranking Cumbrian officers who have started the course. A police officer for the last 28 years, he said the last two years have not been easy.

"For the first year of my master’s degree I was also going through a process at work to become assistant chief constable. I was detective chief superintendent (head of crime) at Cumbria Constabulary at the time, which is a demanding role in itself. Juggling work and study commitments can be difficult but it is possible and well worth the effort.

“It has been of real benefit professionally and personally, helping to develop me. At work, I’m very busy operationally, helping to run a large organisation and helping to protect the public from threat, risk and harm on a daily basis."

He added: “It was a challenge coming back to academic study and writing after so long away. Academic study, research and presentations are different disciplines to what you may do in other parts of your life. You have to be disciplined to get back into the way of learning also, but it has really focused me.”

The former Keswick School pupil said he was delighted to have carried out research into career progression for men and women in the police service as part of his course. He is working with Dr Nicoletta Policek, University of Cumbria associate professor in policing and criminology.

"I’m a proud Cumbrian and proud to serve as assistant chief constable in my home county police force," he said. "I had to go away to Lancaster to study as an undergraduate but I’m also delighted that now we have an established university in Cumbria today, seeing it grow and develop, providing higher education and learning opportunities to so many.

“In the cathedral I was one of two graduating with an MSc in Strategic Policing. The other person was a young man who’d enrolled on it after immediately completing his policing degree and joined the police only last week. It was nice to see how the master’s degree is suitable for all, whether it is as you start out on your journey or are like me, someone with a lot of operational experience and who has enjoyed a varied career in the force.”