The new Grampian police cadet scheme offers qualifications suitable for careers outside as well as in the force
a hunger for adrenaline and excitement has inspired two Aberdeenshire teenagers to join the new Grampian Police Cadet Programme.
Former Kemnay Academy pupil Cheryl Daun is a petite 17-year-old with a ready smile. Ask her what aspect of police work she's interested in and she doesn't hesitate. "Firearms," she says, leaving you momentarily silenced and searching for an appropriate response.
Cheryl is accustomed to the questions: "I've no idea why. I've never used a gun before, it's just something I'm quite interested in. And police work is just something I've always wanted to do, since forever," she says matter-of-factly.
Her new colleague, Christopher Spencer, who recently left Peterhead Academy, is following in his grandfather's footsteps by choosing a career in the force. Until recently he didn't have a preference for any particular branch of police work, but after seeing a video on the work of the public order unit, he's made his mind up.
"It's just appealing, the adrenaline and the fitness aspect of it keeps you on your toes," says Christopher, who plays for Peterhead Boys Club Under-19s football team.
His speed on his feet has already won him a reputation among the other 16 new cadets. People time him and then stare for a long time at their stopwatches.
"He runs very quickly," says Cheryl with a mixture of admiration and envy.
She coped with a two-mile run along Aberdeen Beach recently, but admits she was under pressure.
Grampian Police has just re-introduced its police cadet scheme after it was disbanded in 1993, and has become an approved centre with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Its Recruitment, Learning and Development Unit developed the new cadet programme and decided an educational qualification would benefit youngsters, whether they went on to join the police or opted for an alternative career.
A customised award has allowed Grampian Police to choose topics for the qualification and to decide which format it will take. It's called Developing Com-munity Citizenship and involves eight modules which cadets will work towards during their one-year course.
Prospective cadets must be between 16 and 18-and-a-half years old, and must pass the standard entrance test, as well as undergo a series of assessments and interviews to prove their suitability.
Seventeen-year-olds such as Cheryl and Christopher are paid a salary of around pound;7,200, and get their travel expenses, uniforms and board and lodgings on a bed-and-breakfast basis in police accommodation.
The cadets are not involved in policing work, but they are getting a taste of police life, and today they're learning about non-emergency calls and how to deal with phone calls and people coming into the public office.
Ali Lyon is one of the training constables in the cadet unit and, with almost 30 years' policing experience, is well placed to advise the teenagers on the ups and downs of police life.
He explains the eight modules the cadets will work on.
"Although driven by police, it's not a police-related certificate. It's an award they could take to any employer and it would be useful," he says.
One module, Developing Your Community, involves cadets helping to resolve local issues, developing awareness and community action in relation to crime, focusing on community concerns about youth crime and raising awareness about drug abuse.
The other modules are given the headings Developing Yourself; Developing Leadership; Deve-loping Diversity, Equality and Awareness; Developing Personal Skills - Information Technology; Developing Your Communi-cation; Developing Risk Aware-ness and Developing Positive Customer Relations.
Next year Cheryl and Christopher will return to their old schools to contribute to road safety and drug-awareness education with younger pupils.
But for today, it's back to the training centre and the slightly less adrenaline-fuelled business of "Lost and Found".