Caitlin Neal

Criminology and Security Studies BA (Hons)

Caitlin always had a passion for crime and criminology, and threw herself into all aspects of BCU life, from excelling in her course to getting involved with extra opportunities. Her time at BCU gave her the confidence required to join the police, and now she is going from strength to strength in her role as a Police Constable for Thames Valley Police.

“University was my preferable choice, but I was always open minded when it came to my next steps after school. Crime and criminology have always been my passion though, and I really wanted to learn more about them. When I was considering where to study, I had a look around numerous universities, but BCU had everything I wanted; great facilities, passionate staff, research that was up to date, and it was in a fantastic city.

Before joining university, I didn’t always believe in my ability. I worked hard, but didn't always get the results I wanted. It took a lot of self-belief to push the negative thoughts out of my head, and I’m so glad that I eventually got the confidence to apply to BCU.

After graduating in July 2022, I joined the National Graduate Leadership programme with Police Now. I was then attested, so I am now officially a Police Constable for Thames Valley Police. I started applying for the job in September 2021, and it was a rigorous recruitment process of a Psychometric test, Maths and English tests, video interviews, scenario tests, an assessment day, and finally, a law-style online test. It challenged me, but it meant that it was really rewarding when I was chosen for the role.

Since joining Thames Valley Police, I have been to the academy and had in-force training, and I’ve also been assessed on my gateway skills. I will soon join the Response Team too. So far, I have met so many amazing people and have learned so much. There have been some really challenging moments, but I would highly recommend the programme to anyone.

I don’t tend to have a typical workday, as some days I am in the academy learning, some days I am in physical safety training, and on other days, I am training on shift which means policing the communities at day, night or wherever I am needed. It is so rewarding to be able to help people.

The most challenging thing about my work is the pressure of what my job means. Our duty is to protect local people to the best of our ability. Sometimes, I lack confidence because I am new to the role and feel as if I may not be able to do it as well as I can do. But with time and practice, I hope I will be able to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Since graduating, my proudest achievement was at my second official job with the police, when a victim thanked me for the work I was doing. It just made me feel like all my hard work had paid off and that I was making a difference even being new to the role. It really motivated me to carry on doing what I’m doing, so more people can see the police in the same way they saw me.

BCU and my time there really helped me with my career because not only did my course give me the knowledge that I needed to know what being a good Officer means, but I also took part in other aspects like open day speeches and working with a variety of people across the university. The confidence, leadership, and independence I gained at university helped me immensely to know what I am doing in my new and current role.

The programme I am on now is taking place for two years, and in that time, I want to make the most out of the opportunities presented to me and to try my best to succeed in the programme. At the end of it, I want to have made a difference to my community and policing as a whole.

The best advice I would give to current BCU students is to just try your hardest, make the most out of every opportunity you can and surround yourself with likeminded people who all want to help each other.

But most importantly, enjoy it, have fun, go out, join societies, and make yourself stand out with the extra opportunities, because university goes by so quickly and you do not want to regret not getting involved.”