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Student story

Charlie Boot

20 July 2023

"My degrees have put me in the best possible place to positively impact this system..."


Bachelor of Criminal Justice

Master of Criminal Justice

Graduate Research Insights Advisor, Ngā Pirihimana O Aotearoa | New Zealand Police

What led you into Criminal Justice studies?

I envision myself enacting positive change within our criminal justice system. I was initially really interested in becoming a police officer, but I soon figured out that if I wanted to create real change I had to move into different roles behind the scenes.

So has it given you a better platform to make a difference?

The thing I find most interesting about my study is how crucial criminal justice is to our social and political world. Everyone knows something about criminal justice and almost everyone can be a self-proclaimed expert. Criminal justice is forever changing and often unpredictable; the field offers so many diverse options for work and opportunities to positively impact lives.

Both my study and my job offer me the opportunity to continue to learn and continue to help those involved in our justice system.

How has UC helped you get there?

I choose to study at UC because there is no other degree like Criminal Justice in the country. The lecturers and expertise within the department are extremely valuable to students. All of our lecturers were charismatic and a pleasure to be taught by.

UC itself has a fantastic campus and an amazing club scene with some fantastic events, definitely something it has above any other university in the country. If you feel like you have a niche interest or passion, I guarantee there is a club for it at UC.

Being involved in the club scene as an Executive of CrimSoc (a must join club for all Criminal Justice students) has been an absolute blast and I would recommend that to all students.

Outside of my study I love my sport and have been involved in the National University Futsal Championships as well as being a Canterbury representative.

You also got to volunteer with the Prison Education Project through Community Law Canterbury on campus, and later became a Team Coordinator. What did you do within that?

My role as a Team Coordinator required me to help plan and deliver education seminars to youth offenders at Christchurch Prison.

This was a fantastic role that allowed me to work one-on-one with offenders, as well as to operate in a team of student volunteers. Our sessions aim to educate the young men about legal and social issues that they will face upon reintegration into society.

And these experiences helped you decide to go on to master’s study?

I learnt through my study that our criminal justice system has a lot of flaws, and my degrees have put me in the best possible place to positively impact this system. Both of my Criminal Justice degrees offer fantastic insight into the realms of law enforcement, social welfare, psychology, indigenous issues, and a wide range of contemporary criminal justice problems.

One of the best things about my study is how relevant and applicable it was within my work. Understanding and learning about the cultural and social factors relevant to offending served me incredibly well in building relationships with young offenders. My study has put me in the best possible position to understand the lives of those within the criminal justice system and help guide them through it.

So what do you plan to do with your degrees?

My number one career goal is to address the overrepresentation of Māori in our criminal justice system. The statistics are frankly horrifying, and from the moment I learnt about them I was focused on finding a way to solve them.

I don’t know where this may take me, but no matter what role I end up in this will always be a goal of mine.

What have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduating I have been fortunate enough to begin working for the New Zealand Police in their Evidence Based Policing centre. The work has been challenging and extremely insightful, with plenty of opportunity to develop personally and work across a large array of projects.

What is a highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career so far is undoubtedly the opportunities presented to me through the New Zealand Police. Being able to work with a fantastic team and on world leading research that informs operational policing is an absolute privilege. I have the opportunity to travel, take internationally accredited courses, and provide insight to contemporary criminal justice problems.

What are some of the challenges?

It was definitely a challenge jumping straight into the workplace from study and adapting to new styles of working. However, the BCJ and the Criminal Justice Master’s programme provided me with a fantastic set of practical and analytical skills that helped streamline this transition.

How do you hope your career will develop?

I am hopeful that this graduate role with the New Zealand Police will continue to develop my existing skillset gained from the Criminal Justice programme and provide me with opportunities to make a difference in my communities. I am keeping an open mind to the future but I know that no matter where I end up, I want to make a difference in the Criminal Justice System. The New Zealand Police have an extraordinary array of job possibilities and I am excited to explore these as my career develops.

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