University wins prestigious award

THES Awards-1

(l-r) Awards host Rory Bremner; University’s forensic co-ordinator Anna-Marie O’Connor; University’s director of planning Fiona Loughran; Hampshire police’s head of scientific services Phil McTavish; Hampshire police’s scientific support services manager Samantha Howard; University’s programme area leader Nick Pamment; and University’s senior lecturer Paul Smith

The University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies has won a top award for its innovative work fighting crime with Hampshire Police.

The Institute (ICJS) won the 2015 Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative. The awards are widely recognised as the Oscars of the higher education sector.

The prize was awarded for the University’s Forensic Innovation Centre’s work with the police to create the first operational police forensic facility in the country to be based on a university campus.

The centre combines forensic science and digital crime-fighting investigators with a state-of-the-art learning facility for researchers, students and serving police staff to work side by side to solve crimes, giving students in particular a strong boost in learning and their future careers.

The judges said they were impressed by an initiative with such clear benefits for both parties.

Vice-chancellor of the University, Professor Graham Galbraith said: “I am absolutely delighted we have won this award which is an endorsement of our strong partnership with the Hampshire constabulary. We are proud to be pioneering a partnership which delivers measurable benefits to our students, our researchers and to the police.”

Detective Superintendent Phil McTavish, from Hampshire Constabulary, said: “We have over the last year forged a highly innovative and productive partnership in forensic science with the University of Portsmouth and with our very close working partners at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies particularly.

“This award is fantastic news and provides strong affirmation from the THE panel of the significant benefits our partnership delivers for students, staff and policing operations.

“We look forward to building upon this very welcome success with our University of Portsmouth partners in developing and delivering further innovative and beneficial opportunities for our students, staff and of course for the public in the future.”

Congratulations poured in over Twitter after the award was announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane last night.

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The partnership allows Portsmouth’s researchers to be at the forefront of any practical or professional changes and developments in the sector. For Hampshire Police, it offers an increased capacity to research, develop and test new forensic science methods, technology and techniques.

Thanks to the centre, police staff can support students through honorary lectureship positions and police-student mentoring programmes, and students are provided with opportunities for internships or year-long sandwich courses. They gain experience of working on cutting-edge forensics while police staff gain access to teaching support and university resources, which can contribute to their professional development.

The centre also gives Hampshire Police instant access to a pool of fully vetted and trained potential future employees.

In their comments, the judges said: “This is identifiably a new initiative which delivers clear benefits to both sides. The way the police are embedded in the course delivery and the way students gain highly relevant practical experience, seem to be the right kind of employer engagement.”

ICJS’s victory was witnessed by more than 1,100 people at the awards, hosted by comedian Rory Bremner.

The Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, joined universities from all over the country to celebrate the greatest ideas, the finest practice and the very best researchers and teachers in the sector.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Alison Johns, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Sir Deian Hopkin, president, National Library of Wales, and Joanna Newman, vice-principal (international), King’s College London.

For more coverage of the awards, profiles of the winners, and photos from the evening, visit www.the-awards.co.uk or read THE out on December 3.

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