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Academy Tutor Spotlight: Pete Connolly

Tutor Spotlight: Pete Connolly

The Police Crime Prevention Academy is a provider of high-quality qualifications and courses for the public and private sectors, specialising in crime prevention topics. We talk to tutor Pete Connolly about his role in the Academy and the Academy’s role in reducing and preventing crime.

Who is Pete Connolly?

Prior to joining the Academy, Pete had a diverse policing background that spanned over three decades, starting his career as a police officer in Northern Ireland in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, now the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). During his service, Pete transitioned into a crime prevention design advisor role, which most aligned with his interest in becoming a community officer. During this time, he gained valuable experience in identifying recurring problems and delving into the underlying issues, building strong community relations, and implementing crime prevention strategies through environmental design with Secured by Design (SBD).

With 15 years of experience in this role, Pete became increasingly interested in SBD and upon retirement from PSNI became a licensed consultant, providing support to SBD and its projects. Pete also worked as an ambulance attendant and a first aid trainer while continuing to provide support to the police force.

In 2020, Pete made the decision to drop his ambulance work to take up an opportunity to work part-time with the Police Crime Prevention Academy, where he supported Amanda Mulholland delivering courses to PSNI and An Garda Síochána. However, he quickly found himself working full-time due to the exciting opportunities to engage and provide SBD support to new Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs). Pete proudly stated: “I absolutely love working with and supporting DOCOs in their role, and I am dedicated to continuing to make a positive impact in this field.”

Role within the Academy

Pete’s current position within the Academy is tutor and assessor. Like the rest of the Academy team, Pete is responsible for delivering a range of courses, which has included the Level 5 Designing Out Crime Diploma, a Level 4 course to the RAF Police, Level 3 Problem Solving, and Safer Streets Fund guides and presentations. Due to his location, the majority of his work is conducted online, but he also runs occasional face-to-face training where possible.

Additionally, Pete and Academy colleague Mark O’Callaghan have presented to Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs) with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCtSO), where they are able to explain the importance of the DOCO role, the interlink between CTSAs and DOCOs, and the memorandum of understanding that exists between the groups. Working within a small team, Pete finds he is able to be flexible and provide clients with the customised support they may need.

The Academy’s role in crime prevention

The Academy plays a multi-faceted role in the prevention and reduction of crime, with tutors and assessors dedicated to delivering a wide range of training programs that cater to diverse audiences. Pete explained how his personal experience of training was crime prevention and architectural liaison courses with what was then known as the Home Office Crime Reduction College, which, at that time, delivered training for police officers only. Fast forward to today, and the Academy’s training programs are accessible to various organisations beyond policing, including local authorities, health trusts, and prison services.

The Academy provides access to quality training, where people can achieve transferable, recognised qualifications, thereby facilitating their professional development and achievements. While the courses are crime prevention-centred, delivery is not solely focused on policing, but rather tailored to suit the audience.

Tutors promote crime prevention and reduction by providing training on crime prevention theory, harm reduction and new concepts in these areas, as well as engaging problem sharing forums, good practice demonstrations, and sharing lived and worked experiences.

Why is further learning important?

Regardless of your role, further learning is important to everyone, because nothing stands still in policing. Home Office research from 2016 talks about the drivers of crime – drink, drugs, opportunity, the effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System, profit – and though the drivers tend to be consistent, crime changes all the time.

As technology changes, so do the crime types associated with it. As this happens, security standards for these products need to be updated, with policing working alongside industry to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Crime changes because opportunities change, and if those in policing don’t continually learn and understand where crime opportunities are coming from, they can’t develop solutions. While there are difficulties in getting out in front of new crime types, further learning, or Continuous Professional Development (CPD), helps us respond to emerging crime trends and recognise where they may arise. This can be supported through partnerships such as the Safer Streets Fund, and in learning how to use and manage schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch to respond to new risks. Further learning is about constantly looking for new best practice and preparing for the next challenges.

Pete joined the Police at 16 and didn’t return to education until long into the role. “I didn’t go back to any kind of education until halfway through my policing career when I started in crime prevention, and suddenly realised there were so many great courses out there,” he explains. Pete then went to night school, did an access diploma and an advanced diploma, got a degree, did first aid training, and achieved a Level 3 teaching qualification. “You have to learn to develop yourself and open new opportunities. Look for courses that give a qualification, not just an attendance certificate,” he advises. “Widen your ability to see from other perspectives and develop problem solving solutions.”

Another benefit to further learning is that it widens your vision. Pete describes the effect of his first crime prevention course: “Before, it was like sitting in a dark room with a good torch, able to focus on aspects of crime prevention. After taking the course, it was like the lights in the room were on and I was able to see the bigger picture and the connections between things.” Education can help you change and develop your own behaviours and how you perceive and interact with the world. In the long run, this means being able to create permanent changes to the environment that are more effective than tasking an officer to patrol a corner.

Take-aways for Academy students

“I hope that people will go away from our courses with a much more positive outlook on their value and the value of their work, because those working in crime prevention do and can make a difference to communities,” states Pete. The Academy staff, as former DOCOs, Crime Prevention Officers (CPOs), and Police, with relevant experience in the areas covered by Academy courses, appreciate the feedback they receive, especially when students are able to reflect on the positive impact their learning has had on their communities and how they have been able to use what they have learnt to enthuse others.

Pete hopes that his students go forward in their careers with more confidence, learning how to present their proposals at the right time, to the right people, and how to pick your battles to ensure effective crime prevention.

Pride in teaching

Pete asserts that his proudest moments working with the Academy are the small things – he takes great pride when someone says a heartfelt ‘thanks’ after a series of sessions and finds satisfaction in teaching enthusiastic students who are eager to learn more and are fully invested in the course material. “They feel more confident or enthused about themselves, their role, and the opportunities that have now opened up for them.”


If you're interested in obtaining a crime prevention and problem-solving qualification or want to know more about how the Academy can help your organisation with tailored training courses or CPD, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.