YOUNG police cadets are being put through their paces as part of a pilot scheme being trialled in North Swindon.
A group of pupils aged between 13 and 17 have embarked upon a 10-week training session, and will go into their communities with policing teams to forge better links between children and the police.
The scheme was proposed by police officers, and it is hoped to be rolled out across the county.
Angus MacPherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire, said: “This is about engaging with young people on the ground. Over time a modern cadet force will become established, which will have a very different purpose to the cadets in the 1980s. It is about addressing the lack of activities for young people and giving them a bit of purpose.
“Over time we will be able to integrate more challenging behaviours into the organisation. We want to engage people on the cusp of going down the wrong road.
“This is very much a pilot, but I would like to see it rolled out across the county as appropriate.
“I would have thought over the next few years there would be no reason why there would not be a cadet scheme in every market town in Wiltshire.”
Chief Supt Paul Mills, head of operations at Wiltshire Police, said he wanted to recruit young people who may be in difficulty to put them on the right track.
“The benefit for officers on the ground is they will be able to build relationships with young people in their communities,” he said.
“We have a very diverse group of young people who will be learning some law and basic policing skills. We will give them the opportunity to work with their neighbourhood policing teams, and if we have any major events they will be working alongside our colleagues.
“We want different people from different backgrounds. Getting people to join is about selling the benefits to them. We are going to equip them with skills for a competitive job market.
“The starting point of this is for young people to look to volunteer, and a by-product of that is looking to actively join the police service. I was in a similar position to these children when I had police officers visit my school, and that ignited something in me. Seventeen years later I find myself in this position. We want to show them the impotance of young people acting as role models.”
George Mason, 13, from Isambard Community School, said: “I want to be a policeman when I am older, and I think this could be a good opportunity to learn how to do it and improve my chances.
“I could patrol around the school at break times and make sure no one gets into trouble. A lot of young people now are getting into trouble, and it is good that they will have someone their own age to talk to.
“I just want a better understanding of law.”
Elizabeth Yeates, 14, from Isambard Community School, added: “This helps the community a lot because we can get out there and support people.
“I want to help stop people getting on the streets and causing trouble. I could help by talking to young people my own age.”
Amelia Mountford, 15, of Kingsdown School, was one who did not want to join the force.
“I just thought it would be something to put on my CV,” she said. “I really want to be a dance teacher.
“I suppose we could relate to people’s problems our own age better than other people could.”
PC Sandra Higgins-Hughes, beat manager for Highworth, said: “We need to keep in touch with children who can bring in some ideas about how best to engage with them in the future.”