Cadets benefit from new recruitment pathway
Teenage cadets joined the Met commissioner in Lewisham yesterday (Monday 27 September) to mark the start of a new recruitment programme that aims to tap into the huge pool of existing talent represented by the force’s young volunteers.
Dan, aged 16 and Yagmur, 17, accompanied Cressida Dick on the walkabout, one of a host of activities taking place across the borough at the start of National Inclusion Week (NIW) – a celebration of diversity that is being embraced across the whole of the Met.
The teenagers are just two of the existing 3,500-strong current cadet cohort who will benefit from access to the pathway, which aims to provide the best support to young people who have decided they want to pursue a full-time career with the police.
It is targeted at the 16-19 age group and entails three distinct key phases: mentoring, a summer school and application support workshops. It is hoped that by drawing upon the high levels of diversity already in the cadet corps, this will maximise the potential for more candidates from under-represented groups, as well as females, to enter the Met pipeline.
The aim is to direct cadets towards the pioneering degree apprenticeship programme, which was designed to broaden the appeal of policing by offering participants the chance to study for a fully-funded degree whilst earning a salary for practical ‘on the job’ training.
The programme has already achieved an early aim by appealing to higher numbers of London’s diverse communities from Black, Asian and other under-represented groups.
Speaking on Monday, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “I’m delighted that I was able to join two of our inspiring cadets on a walkabout in Lewisham. To meet the changing demands of policing London, it is vital that we as the Met strengthen our links to the capital’s increasingly diverse communities and our next generation of officers must be as representative of London as possible.
“Our cadets are hugely talented and already support London and the Met with a wide range of activities to prevent crime and ensure safety. They bring a great range of skills and knowledge and their time in the cadets ensures they have enhanced leadership, team building and problem solving abilities.
“There is a rich tradition of police cadets taking the step to becoming Met officers, with many hundreds already serving the capital, and I hope that many more are encouraged to follow in their footsteps to take up this great opportunity. Our new programme represents an investment back into their futures, and into London’s communities as a whole.”
Yagmur Balontekin said: "I felt really honoured to be chosen to do the walkabout. I've always aspired to become a PC, to help people and make a difference. Coming from an ethnic minority community myself, I believe in making a change from inside the system and feel having more representation will make us more relatable to under-represented communities."
Her fellow Lewisham cadet, Dan Samms, who joined when he was 10, said: "It was eye-opening to hear about the Commissioner's own experiences of being a PC and her personal journey. Being a cadet leads to so many unique opportunities, such as the two-week boot camp in Missisippi I did with US cadets.
"I intend to make full use of the new pathway as I think it will definitely help me in becoming a PC and achieve my ambition of working in the counter-terrorism firearms."
Dozens of existing cadets were able to get a taste of the benefits of the new programme at a special event put on for them and their families at New Scotland Yard on Saturday 25 September, during which they received a variety of informative talks including from ex-cadet PS Robert Sewell. He is still active in supporting Newham cadets, which he joined at 13, and is the youngest Met officer to be honoured by the Queen with a British Empire Medal for his services to youth.
Attendees also had a chance to find out more about the wide variety of opportunities the force can open doors to by being given the chance to mingle with officers from many different units running stalls on the day, including Taskforce who demonstrated their kit.
The VPC scheme is recognised as one of the fastest growing uniformed youth groups in the UK, and is open to every young person aged 10 to 19, irrespective of their background, including those vulnerable to crime or social exclusion. Currently 43% of the Met cadets are from under-represented groups, 49% are female and one per cent identify as non-binary or Trans.
Cadet coordinators routinely receive referrals from youth offending teams and schools officers as the programme has a strong early intervention and diversion focus, alongside engagement, social action and citizenship.
The VPC helps make London safer by reducing vulnerability to crime through enhancing young people's ability to contribute and achieve, as well as assisting them in developing positive and proactive contact with the police on their own terms.
The total cohort selflessly volunteers tens of thousands of hours each year to help the work of the Met, from crime prevention activities such as weapon sweeps and test purchase operations to supporting at large-scale public events.
A raft of activities took place across Lewisham and other South East Command Area boroughs (Greenwich and Bexley) on Monday, alongside the Commissioner’s walkabout, to mark National Inclusion Week.
These included five ‘positive action initiatives’, which entail police and volunteers carrying out visible activities in crime ‘hotspot’ locations to improve confidence. A special community survey was also conducted, the results of which will be used to review social media platforms and identify areas where the Met can better build trust.
This year is the first time the Met has officially taken part in NIW - the ninth annual event with a theme of ‘Unity’ – and joined the significant community which comes together annually every late September to celebrate, share and inspire inclusion practices in all their forms during a focused week of activities.
To mark the celebrations for NIW within the Met and across London, Lewisham also hosted the internal launch on Monday of the Met’s new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, ‘STRIDE 2021 -2025'.
This sets out how as an organisation the Met will ensure that everyone who lives, works and visits London feels and stays safe, outlines how employees can flourish to their full potential, and how as an ethical and fair organisation it will attract a fully diverse range of Londoners to join its ranks.
This aim will be assisted by a key uplift to the existing cadre of outreach recruitment workers, with more than 40 joining the 12 already put into place a year ago, one in each of the Met's borough command areas.
Managed by a central team, the new employees, two thirds of whom are from under-represented groups themselves, will enhance the Met’s ability to directly engage with those communities it would like to recruit from but has historically struggled to attract.
The Met has also organised a range of internal events to take place throughout this special NIW that are being hosted by different departments, centering on furthering dialogue and bringing to life practical examples of the progress the organisation is making in its ambitions.
The wide range of activities open to all range from online seminars such as a talk by a distinguished professor on neurodiversity, to a football-themed event involving youth teams from premier league clubs all over London. Taking place in Harrow on Sunday 3 October, this will see young people and officers from all different backgrounds using their shared passion for the game to break down barriers.
The cadets will also feature again this coming weekend at a high profile event at Harrow School that involves 150 young people from across London Uniform Youth Groups taking part in a weekend conference on leadership.