Police cadets 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 pay-roll of their local police in a virtual apprenticeship, leading (in most cases) to subsequent enrollment a full-time Police Constable; this scheme was phased out in most English and Welsh police forces between 1990 and 1995, but is still active in Scotland. The term may also refer to the more recent (post-1995) Volunteer Police Cadet youth organisation, that offers an insight into policing, under the general supervision of the local police force in England, Wales and Scotland.

Police Cadets (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 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 on Officer Present unless given permission by an Inspector. Due to Health and Safety Regulations Police cadets are not allowed to event where they carry 'High Risk Events'. Mostly 'Low Key'


The Police Cadet uniform was, in most force areas, identical to the uniform of regular constables, with two exceptions. Firstly, Cadets wore a peaked cap with a blue band (as opposed to the police black and white Sillitoe Tartan design), and never wore a police helmet; and secondly, 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 was never guaranteed, but service as a Police Cadet was a significant advantage in the selection process, and appears to have provided a solid basis for the subsequent careers of many senior police officers.


The Police Cadet scheme continues to operate in Scotland, with recruits typically entering the scheme aged 16 and serving for two years, before progressing to the regular police force. Cadets are employed full-time, although salaries tend to be low. Entry examinations are required, but those who have completed the scheme are not required to resit the entry examination on progressing to the regular police.[1]

Police Cadets 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.[2]

Volunteer Police Cadets (youth organisation)[edit]

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. But Police Cadet uniforms do look like a Constables 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 were 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, Epaulettes, 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".[3] Police Cadets within Devon and Cornwall Police cadets wear a solid red hatband and epaulettes.[4]

London (United Kingdom)[edit]

The founder and the largest cadet scheme is operated by the Metropolitan Police Service, with over 5000 Cadets (March 2016). The first Volunteer Police Cadet Unit started in Dulwich in 1987. 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) [1] 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 as 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 Nottinghamshire 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 scheme's 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.

In April 2013 Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer was appointed ACPO portfolio lead for the National VPC programme 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.

Schemes in operation[edit]

Katie Humphries 514278218 22.04.1986

Anna Humphries 23.05.88 519866833

Blake Harris 512421456 02-12-2004

Gareth Evans 109564859 09-05-1953

Edward Smith 517258015 17-01-2002

George Powell 512062607 24-03-2002

Ryan Moroney 514815873 25-01-2002

Dafydd Volk Evans 526624191 14-02-2003

Jon Edgson 503307411 07-10-2002

Thomas Robinson 510588006 19-09-1999

Lucy Smith 526602418 23-01-2005

Florence Powell 502886144 25-05-2004

Georgia Lee 515395415 31-07-2000

Thomas Ehlers 523712507 23-02-2003

Thomas Fowles 514790314 12-02-2003

Benjamin Fowles 527027240 04-05-2005

Gareth Powell 30.05.64 530295737 ]]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Full details of the training programme and salary levels are shown on this web page from Scotland.
  2. ^ See the British Film Institute website here for more details.
  3. ^ This uniform is illustrated here.
  4. ^ As stated and illustrated here.

External links[edit]