Two local police areas in Thames Valley are to become the first in the Force to launch the Volunteer Police Cadets (VPC) scheme.
The new scheme, which will provide young people from all parts of society an opportunity to develop their qualities and skills through a structured programme, and enhance the relationship between the public and police, is being piloted in Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead (Royal Borough).
Both police areas are working towards the same aims and objectives with the same principles in mind; however one of the pilots is being led by a charity organisation, in partnership with Thames Valley Police, while the other is being run by the Force in partnership with others.
Sergeant Rob Dalton, from Windsor police station, along with other neighbourhood police officers, is responsible for running the pilot in the Royal Borough, in partnership with Youth Services from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. The scheme has also attracted sponsorship from Radian Housing, Hamilton Chess Ltd (Windsor) Estate Agents, and Waitrose. East Berkshire College’s Public Service Department (Windsor and Langley) is also supporting the scheme which is set to recruit in the region of 30 cadets, between the ages of 14 and 18, over the forthcoming weeks. Letters have already been sent to schools informing them of the scheme, and recruitment events are under way.
The scheme in Slough, which is being run for young people between the ages of 13 and 19, is being managed by Lee Elton and Jamie Green from SWIPE – a charity which works with young people through music and youth programmes. It has the backing of Slough’s local police commander Richard Humphrey and his management team. The pilot has already recruited a number of young people from Slough who are now performing the role of a Slough volunteer cadet, under the supervision of SWIPE management.
As dedicated volunteers wanting to make a difference in their local community, the cadets in each of the two boroughs will work alongside police officers and staff, other volunteers, and partner agencies, to support neighbourhood policing initiatives and community activities and events. While they will not be eligible for independent patrols or have any legal powers, they will be able to perform tasks such as crime prevention initiatives, message/leaflet delivery, test purchase operations, youth crime diversion, partnership public safety campaigns, and involvement in non-confrontational local events under supervision. They will also be involved in events locally such as Remembrance Day Parades.
All cadet activities will be risk assessed to comply with health and safety and child protection policies and procedures. The cadets and their leaders, along with other staff involved in the scheme, will meet once a week during a chosen evening in their respective boroughs (Wednesdays in the Royal Borough and Thursdays in Slough). The meetings will include items such as physical activity, guest speakers and input on police-related topics as part of an ongoing training programme. As well as these weekly meetings, the cadet units will involve themselves in other activities at weekends and in school holidays and this may include going away on camps.
The cadets will be educated and trained in various skills to improve their confidence in dealing with people from all walks of life. Standard uniform will be issued to the cadets, featuring an approved logo.
Sergeant Rob Dalton said: “The cadets are an additional resource to help develop confidence in Thames Valley Police across all of the local police areas taking part in the scheme, while developing a cadre of pro-active social citizens who are proud to be part of the Thames Valley Police family. They are not a substitute for paid police officers and staff. The scheme is very much about giving young people the opportunity to become involved in community events and initiatives by gaining a valuable insight into the world of policing at the same time. They should be seen as positive role models for other young people.
“I’m very proud to be part of the cadets’ launch in Thames Valley which has the potential to be rolled out across other areas in the future.
- If you are interested in joining the Cadets in the Royal Borough, please submit your application as soon as possible, as numbers will be limited.
Jamie Green said: “Slough VPC has had an excellent summer with our 26 cadets racking up over 950 volunteer hours at various Slough community events supporting local communities and the police. The cadets have been highly praised for the work they have done and are already setting up activities for the autumn such as running a sports activity session for young people at The Orchard Youth and Community Centre, planting bulbs in Slough’s Herschel Park, and taking part in the Colnbrook Crime Reduction and Environment Week.
“The cadets have become a highly motivated group of inspirational young people and I am very proud to be working with them.”
Lee Elton said: “It is important to note that the cadet scheme is about youth enhancement, engagement and diversion. Indeed, if suitable, cadets can be referred to us from the local youth offending team. Although we have a healthy number of cadets at present, we will be looking to increase the size of the group to around 30 sometime next month. If applications continue to come in, we will start a waiting list and may consider a second group early next year.
“I have recently completed 34 years serving as a police officer in a neighbouring force, where I ran similar cadet schemes, working with over 500 young people. In some cases, I found that those who had or were likely to commit crime invariably did not offend once they had integrated into a group.”