UCF criminal justice students recently returned from a study abroad program in the United Kingdom, where they had an in-depth look at the U.K. policing system.

The 18 participants met with police leaders, observed police demonstrations and visited justice facilities during the two-week program, held primarily in Gloucestershire and Cheshire counties and in London.

The experiences enabled them to compare policing in the U.K. with policing in the United States, said program leader Ross Wolf, an associate dean in UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs and criminal justice faculty member.

In Gloucestershire and Cheshire, the students visited each county’s constabulary, or police department, where they observed demonstrations by police K9 teams and special response teams and learned about the U.K.’s latest approaches to crime.

Britain recently began electing a ‘Police and Crime Commissioner’ to oversee policing in a defined police area, and the students had an opportunity to meet and talk with PCC John Dwyer of Cheshire, Wolf said.

The students also participated in a course on community policing at the University of Gloucestershire and met with police volunteers at the University of Chester.

In addition, they learned about the U.K.’s approach to justice.

“At the Crown Court in Gloucestershire, the students met with a sitting judge and asked questions about the differences in our judicial systems. Then they observed his courtroom in action. The judge even interrupted the proceedings to explain to the students what was happening,” Wolf said.

In London, the students met with the London Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard. They also toured Parliament, the U.K.’s supreme legislative body, and attended a presentation on its history and workings.

“The students found many parts of the trip extremely interesting,” Wolf shared. “I’m certain each and every one came home with a new perspective and hopefully will think about our policing and our criminal justice system in a different light.”