Police cadets in the United Kingdom

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in the United Kingdom
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The term police cadets has two meanings in the United Kingdom. It may refer to the Police Cadet scheme which allows young adults to serve on the payroll of their local police in a virtual apprenticeship, leading (in most cases) to subsequent enrollment as a full-time officer: police constable. This scheme was phased out in most English and Welsh police forces between 1990 and 1995, but is still active in Scotland. "Police cadet" may also refer to the more recent (post-1995) volunteer police cadet youth organisation, one that works policing, under the general supervision of the local police force in England, Wales and Scotland.

Police Cadets or Apprentice Police Officers[edit]


The Police Cadet schemes still operate in England & Wales. Police Cadets never had the powers of a Police Constable but were employed by police forces to work alongside regular Constables, learning about police work in a practical and 'hands-on' environment. Working as a Police Cadet in this way usually went alongside a more classroom-based training. On operational duty, despite having no powers of arrest, they were able to assist their more senior colleagues in many practical matters (such as taking statements, directing traffic, or offering crime prevention advice). as well as observing the work of their supervisors. Applications were accepted from the age of 16, and full-time paid Police Cadet service continued until the age of 19, by which time a Cadet would either apply for training as a Constable, or leave the police force. Police Cadet Schemes are mostly involved with the National Police Cadet Scheme 'Volunteer Police Cadet Scheme' in most cases. The biggest Police Cadet Force is the Met Police and out of the met police areas Thames Valley Police have the biggest Cadet scheme.

In most cases, Police Cadets do not go out on duty without an Officer present unless given permission by an Inspector. Due to Health and Safety Regulations Police cadets are not allowed to go on duty where they carry 'High-Risk Events'.


The Police Cadet uniform was, in most force areas, identical to the uniform of regular constables, with two exceptions. Cadets wore a peaked cap with a blue band (as opposed to the police black and white Sillitoe Tartan design), never a police helmet; and they wore a "Police Cadet" shoulder flash/badge on their tunics.

Police careers[edit]

Many of the most senior policemen in the United Kingdom, including many recent Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police Service, Commissioners of the City of London Police, and County Chief Constables, started their careers as full-time Police Cadets. Appointment as a Constable is never guaranteed.

In popular culture[edit]

In 1980 the ITV television network aired The Squad, a drama series which followed the fictional adventures of Metropolitan Police Cadets. The twelve episodes were produced by London ITV-franchise company Thames Television.[1]

Volunteer Police Cadets (youth organization)[edit]


Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) are the fastest growing uniformed youth service of its type in the UK.

Established in 2013 with five groups in Cumnock, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the PSYV quickly made an impact volunteering at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and at local events throughout Scotland. The program has quickly expanded and today there are now twenty groups across Scotland from Stranraer to Shetland, with plans to expand to 37 by April 2017.

The PSYV have a distinctly Scottish identity and are placed at the heart of Scottish communities. Every weekend Youth Volunteers can be seen volunteering at everything from local Church or Mosque open days right through to major events like T in the Park or The Open Gold Championship. When working in their communities the Youth Volunteers will be getting involved in everything they can; supporting stewards, helping the elderly, giving out public safety information, child wristbands whilst supporting local policing priorities. The PSYV are also involved with peer to peer and intergenerational education programs, delivering inputs to their peers, the public and to the police on important themes like No Knives Better Lives, internet safety and other inputs relevant to local policing.

The PSYV operate independent from other police cadet services, have their own distinct uniform, structure and accredited award.

Police work[edit]

There are a number of Volunteer Police Cadet schemes for young people aged (in most cases) between 10 and 24. These groups are designed to provide a sense of what it is like to be a police officer, by getting cadets involved in various police related activities, such as crime prevention projects. Some forces allow cadets to go out on patrol with Police Officers in connection with non-confrontational policing duties, once they reach the age of 14. Each scheme is sponsored by a statutory police service, although it has a separate identity, and in that sense is more distant from regular policing than the work of the former full-time Police Cadets. In most forces, there are no formal entry requirements to become a cadet.

Cadet uniform[edit]

There is, at this time, no single Volunteer Police Cadet Uniform within the UK. Most Police Services have shied away from Cadets having uniforms that resemble that of the local Police service for health and safety reasons; the concern being that a Cadet may be mistaken for a police officer, PCSO or Community Warden or that it might facilitate an over eager Cadet impersonating a warranted officer. Police Cadet uniforms resemble a Constable's, but Police Cadets will always have a Police Constable with them unless told otherwise; then they will have radios or be with a partner, never walking alone in most cases. These Police Services have tended towards "blues" or polo shirts and a beret or baseball cap. In Cambridgeshire, Cadets wear a similar uniform to the old full-time cadets, but are issued with a navy blue combat-style sweater (marked 'Police Cadet') instead of a tunic; however in Sussex their uniform is similar to a police officer's, with white shirt, tie, epaulets, black trousers, and black shoes. They also have cadet jackets and a high visibility jacket. In Hertfordshire, cadets were issued with a light blue V-neck sweater, which had the county emblem embroidered on it. The Hertfordshire scheme has now changed and cadets wear a uniform similar to regular police officers, but with the word "cadet" embroidered on epaulette rank slides instead of a collar number and similarly the word "cadet" on the left breast reflective strip instead of the word "police".[2] Police Cadets within Devon and Cornwall Police cadets wear a solid red hatband and epaulets.[3]

London (United Kingdom)[edit]

The founder and the largest cadet scheme are operated by the Metropolitan Police Service, with over 5000 cadets as of March 2016. Launched in 1987 as a community initiative, the then-Commissioner Peter Lambet wanted to engage with young people. The first documented volunteer police cadet unit started in South Norwood (Lambeth) in March 1988. However, there is a suggestion that units were opened in 1987 after the commissioner's launch. Started by local officers it soon grew to a success and was expanded across other boroughs. By 2010 every London borough had a VPC unit, along with a central support team within the Territorial Policing Command Unit. Metropolitan Police Cadets (aged from 10 to 24) [4] are involved in continuing further education, DofE, learning about the police service, carrying out attachments to divisions and specialist departments, learning first aid, and engaging in community work projects with the disabled and disadvantaged. London Police cadets annually compete in a police scenario completion, which was traditionally held in Hendon, in North London, for the annual Police Cadet Competition. This involved cadets competing in a range of police activities and scenarios, in which they were competitively assessed. In 2015 the Metropolitan Police announced that the Cadet Competition was no longer to be held at Hendon due to the resizing of Hendon; some of the land was sold off for development. However, the Annual Cadet Competition continues a long tradition at the GRAVESEND public order site. 2013 also saw the launch of Junior Police Cadets capturing those young people from school Year 6 to Year 9 at which point they become eligible to join the senior VPC.

On Sunday 14 June 2009, the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Police Cadets took part in what is believed to have been the largest ever formal parade of young people, to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Volunteer Police Cadet force in what was named as the "colour parade" and was carried out on Horse Guard's Parade. Each cadet troop was formally passed a Standard (flag) under the review of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, and other senior officers of the Metropolitan Police. The parade also included the showing of vintage police vehicles, police dogs, and a static display of the Boys Brigade's London Massed Bugle Band. Bands that lead the four columns of a total of 1,400 cadets (and various police cadet staff, most of whom also hold different roles within the Metropolitan Police) were Metropolitan Police Pipe Band, the Nottingham-shire Police Pipe Band, the British Airways Brass Band, and the Enfield District Scout Band.

Cadets are involved in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme and have the largest operating licence not run by a local authority. In addition, they have an opportunity to take a senior leadership course to obtain an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification). There are also plans for the new entry test required for police officers to be included.

Since 2011 when London Mayor Boris Johnson supported expansion by declaring doubling of numbers by 2015, the MET VPC central team worked hard to support expansion changing the age range from 14-19 to 10-24. Expansion target was achieved in March 2016 but was celebrated in a "T-Sq" parade in August 2015, due to the confidence in the extension. [5]

In April 2013 Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer was appointed ACPO portfolio lead for the National VPC program and is supported by a small implementation team developing the project further under a common “brand” and framework. By April 2014 this work had SUPPORTED to 34 Services in England, Scotland and Wales agreeing to this joint framework, and many of the remainder scoping the viability of a starting a Cadet scheme.


The Staffordshire Police Cadet scheme was formed in 2014 by the PCC at the time, Matthew Ellis, as he felt there needed to be a way for the youth of Staffordshire to be able to get involved with their local police force and officers.

There are not many units in the Staffordshire Police Cadets Scheme. The current units are:

  • Burslem
  • Stafford
  • Codsall
  • Tamworth
  • Cannock
  • Burton.(Starting in mid-April)

Schemes in operation[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See the British Film Institute website here for more details.
  2. ^ This uniform is illustrated here.
  3. ^ As stated and illustrated here.
  4. ^ http://www.met.police.uk/cadets/about_us.html
  5. ^ "Fighting Crime in London" (PDF). Boris Johnson. Retrieved 2017-06-12. 

External links[edit]