It’s emerged that more than 100 schoolchildren applied to be enrolled in an innovative new body – the ‘South Wales Police Youth Volunteer Service Scheme’ which may prove to be an election-winning ace for South Wales Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael.
Over 90 children have took part in an official “swearing-in” ceremony at Margam Park Orangery last month in which they were all asked to affirm an “oath of allegiance” to act in accordance with aims and objectives of the new police body. Attending the ceremony were the current South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael (former Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) and the Assistant Chief Constable, Jon Strafford.
All the children – all aged between 13 and 18 – received certificates confirming their membership of the South Wales Police Youth Volunteer Service Scheme – an organisation aimed at getting young people young people involved in community projects and “fostering relationships with police”. Earlier this year South Wales Police had already recruited 32 young teenagers to add to what it calls its “policing family” – i.e. the existing complement of police officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) , special constables and police backroom staff .
The Youth Volunteers will meet on at least one evening a week for a 2 hour session which will include a “parade and inspection” and are expected to commit 3 hours a month to “community-based volunteer work“. It’s intended that the teenagers will get involved in “fundraising activities and crime prevention initiatives and may also get involved with operational activities such as test-purchase initiatives” .
“Test Purchase Initiatives“ are operations carried out by under-age children acting as undercover agents who attempt to purchase alcohol and tobacco from licensed retailers in order to test their observance of the law.
The initiative in setting up the youth volunteer scheme was that of Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael along with South Wales Police senior officers . Commissioner Michael says “Opportunities for these young people will include First Aid training through St John and the chance to achieve through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – qualifications that often make the difference when seeking a job.”
Assistant Chief Constable Jon Stratford said the force recognised “the value that volunteers bring and that by involving volunteers in a wider range of activities we can better represent and support he communities that we serve.”
Jason Rees, Project Manager for the Scheme in South Wales, says : “The aim of the programme is to capture the enthusiasm and energy of young people and help them develop a sense of good citizenship and leadership, regardless of who they are and what they may have done in the past. Through the scheme, they will be able to channel it all into community based projects, be it charity work, enforcement, or crime prevention activities.”
The expansion of the South Wales Police Youth Volunteer Service Scheme has been notified to the South Wales Police and Crime Panel (the body comprising mostly Labour councillors which oversees the activities of the Police and Crime Commissioner) – as part of the Commissioner’s “Police and Crime Reduction Plan 2016-2021″ .
[PDN Note: So-called “Test Purchasing“ is already carried out in some other police areas in which underage children are paid to attempt to purchase age-restricted items like alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, spray paints, lighter fluid and knives. Children are authorised to lie about their age, conduct surveillance and carry covert recording equipment ]