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What To Expect When Going On An International School Program: Part 2

What To Expect When Going On An International School Program: Part 2


Charlotte went away on the international trip of a lifetime studying Policing in the UK. From crowd control tactics, forensics to extravagant castles, Charlotte has experienced it all!

Written by Charlotte Penhall

So you have made it through all the nitty gritty stuff of preparing for your international trip, jumped on the plane, survived the layover in another country (in my case it was Dubai), and made it to the country it is being held (United Kingdom).


Now it is time for the program itself.

This is where the international school programs will differ the most.

For my trip, we were thankfully given an itinerary for the duration of the program, which included both activities focusing on policing and then some fun stuff to help break it up.

What my program involved.

Day 0 was the most uneventful. It was the day we could officially check into the student accommodation John Moores University provided for us.

I will just add the business you see below called “The Font” is a bar. That was the meeting place for most of our afternoon debriefs. I don’t think I need to tell you what we did in there as Australians though.

The Font.

Day 1 was spent in the classroom in the morning before heading out into Liverpool in the afternoon.

We had a few lecturers from John Moores University come in and talk to us about police culture, police well-being, and neighbourhood and community policing.

Even though we were in the classroom, I still found what our lecturers were talking about interesting. It gave me the United Kingdoms perspective on these topics.  

After we finished in the classroom, we headed into Liverpool’s city centre for a proper afternoon tea.

Like I mean, little towers of deserts and savoury food for everyone to eat while we drank tea.

Charlotte and her group having afternoon tea.

Then after we finished eating, we split into teams and went on a Beatles-themed scavenger hunt (the Beatles originated in Liverpool, if you didn’t know).

We had to solve clues to cross out the names of suspects and weapons while visiting places related to the Beatles.

A Beatles statue in Liverpool.

Day 2 First outing.

We met just down from the accommodation and had a short bus ride to Merseyside Police’s Lea Green Training Facility.

This is where they get their public order training.

I will quickly mention in the UK, they have 43 different police forces for the various regions they have.

Merseyside Police is the police force in Liverpool. 

Let me tell you about this training facility.

It is huge.

They have built tiny streets for crowd control practice, a fake jail with cells, a fake nightclub, a building they can abseil over the side of that can have a multitude of scenarios as the building can have a lot of customisations, and have a bunch of doors for door-breaching practice.

It is similar to Rossiville at the NSW Police Academy.

After our tour, we were given demonstrations on door-breaching, shown the insides of one of their Police Support Unit vans, and had a go at some of their crowd control tactics.

After we finished at Lea Green Training Facility, we got to tour Anfield Stadium. For those who don’t know what Anfield is, it is Liverpool FC’s (soccer) stadium. Liverpool loves soccer, and during the tour, you get to see the sheer size of it.

It is a great thing to see.

Day 3 took me to Wales.

The first thing we did when we got there was go to Caernarfon Castle.

It was interesting to see all the rooms in the castle, and it was fun climbing all the stairs to the top of the watchtowers (not).

The staircases up were small and steep, so it was interesting when you met someone coming up or down.

After lunch, we headed over to our police-related visit with the North Wales Police, where we had the chance to ask questions and learn about how the North Wales Police even have to learn Welsh if they do not already know it, as there is a high Welsh population in North Wales.

After we got back from Wales, nothing else was planned for the day. However, a few of us decided to go to the Baltic Market.

It was a little hidden, but the food was great, and it was a nice, chill way to end the day.

Day 4 had me visiting the Merseyside Police Academy, checking out their HYDRA program, and meeting the mounted unit.

HYDRA is a program where teams can practice and improve decision-making, leadership, and communication in environments that copy critical incidents. 

While we were there, we got to experience a couple of scenarios where we had to decide if we were going to send officers to either a dog that had attacked people and was running towards more people to attack or someone following a child that was alone, but the child was hidden and had a phone.

The mounted unit was on the same grounds as the Merseyside Police Academy.

It was interesting to hear the history of the mounted unit, how the horses are brought into it, and what went into looking after them. A couple of the horses were also playing up at the time, which was funny.

Day 5 was very forensic focused.

After we were shown the detailed documents that can be used in court, the forensics side took over.

It was so much fun.

We got suited up as if we were going into a crime scene and got to walk through and ‘investigate’ 4 different cases involving deaths.

In the order that I saw them and what the room gave me: one case involved a university student, drugs, and a shotgun; another involved a possible domestic violence and sexual assault case with evidence of a baby missing; a pub brawl gone wrong with someone bringing a crowbar; and finally a mail bomb.

Funny enough, the two John Moores students we had with us got to see the final room earlier than they were supposed to, and had to be sworn to secrecy. 

Charlotte and fellow university students all suited up.

Day 6 & 7

On Saturday (Day 6), those who wanted to go had the chance to join the street pastors on their nightly patrol.

The Liverpool Street Pastors walk around the Liverpool CBD, the pubs and clubs and help intoxicated people out.

They can even help the police by staying with a drunk person so the police can worry about other things.

This help can be giving someone a bottle of water (they even gave some to people experiencing homelessness), some lollies for a sugar hit (especially to the security guards outside of each building), providing barefoot girls (because they took off their heels), a pair of pink thongs so they don’t cut their feet, and pick up any beer glasses and glass bottles so no one can cut themselves or use it as a weapon.

If you want an Australian equivalent, think of the Red Frogs.

Charlotte helping the Liverpool Street Pastors.

Day 8 saw us back in the classroom covering topics like CPS and best practices, community engagement, CT and intelligence, and LGBT+ perceptions of Police in Merseyside.

It was the shortest day of the program by far, but after our big week, I appreciated it.

Day 9, the program’s final day, had to go out with a bang!

We got a last-minute trip to see the firearms (get my joke), armed response vehicles, and dog units.

One difference in the UK’s police forces is that for a police officer to hold a firearm, they must be a part of a specialised firearms squad, unlike NSW police officers, who always carry a firearm.

We were even allowed to hold a few of their firearms (unloaded obviously). I will say, as someone who has never held a real firearm before, they had a bit more weight than I expected.

After being shown the armoury, where all the firearms, from pistols to sniper rifles, were held, we were shown a police car that the firearm squad uses and the vest they wear that carries a lot of their ammo.

Many questions were asked, and the officers we were talking to were even a little shocked to find out that every NSW police officer carries a gun.

Day 10 saw most of us leave the student accommodation.

There is only one more part in this series.

It will cover the main things I enjoyed about the program (and my time in the UK), what I learnt, and my recommendations for you lovely people if you wish to apply for this type of trip yourself. So watch out for this!

Charlotte with classmates and lecturers for their farewell dinner at The Font.

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