Alumni has been responsible for policing support at some of the world’s biggest football tournaments – including the last two World Cups.
International Relations graduate (1988) Mark Roberts is the head of UK football policing a position that naturally requires skills in communication and co-operation, but also a wider understanding and appreciation of different countries, their political systems and social make-up.
Mark Roberts, Chief Constable Cheshire Police
Keele University, International Relations, 1985-88.
As the head of UK football policing, Mark Roberts has been responsible for policing support at some of the world’s biggest football tournaments – including the last two World Cup tournaments in Russia and Qatar.
It’s a position that naturally requires skills in communication and co-operation, but also a wider understanding and appreciation of different countries, their political systems and social make-up.
Mark, the current Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, graduated from Keele more than 30 years ago after spending three years studying International Relations. And he has continually found his degree helpful and relevant throughout his career in the police, which started when he joined Greater Manchester Police in 1993.
He said: “I was going to study history and politics originally, but I moved across to international relations because I found myself more interested in it. I’ve led the UK Football Policing Unit since 2014 and that has involved dealing with lots of countries all over the world, including Russia and Qatar, which have been really fascinating experiences. The operation in Russia was complicated by the events surrounding the Salisbury poisoning, which happened just a few months before the tournament started, so there were already heightened tensions between the two countries at that time.
“At some point politics does come into it, especially when you’re dealing with overseas countries and governments, so having that background from my degree in understanding how political systems work and all the different dynamics involved has certainly ended up being quite relevant and useful to me. Before this role, I was the Head of Investigations for the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, and I’ve often thought about how so much of what I have done during my time in the police force has come back to that degree in International Relations.”
During his time at Keele, Mark played for the University’s rugby team and he looks back on his three years spent in North Staffordshire with fond memories.
He said: “One of the biggest things for me was meeting people from all over the country with different backgrounds. It took me out of my own little bubble and opened my eyes in many ways. I really enjoyed the campus, playing rugby and the social element that came with it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Keele and look back on it with real fondness. It was some of the best years of my life.”
Mark has continued his involvement with Keele in a professional capacity, previously working with the Keele Policing Academic Collaboration (KPAC) that was launched in 2018 to promote research collaboration between academics and policing and community safety partners.
When asked for his advice to Keele’s current students, Mark added: “Be confident and challenging in whatever it is you do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find something you enjoy doing.”