Police Scotland Youth Volunteers had their passing out parade at Stranraer Academy this week.
The event was the culmination of a 12 week basic training course followed by the group volunteering at numerous events throughout Dumfries and Galloway during the summer period.
The Stranraer group is the first in Dumfries and Galloway and one of 14 groups currently set up in Scotland.
The group coordinator in Stranraer is Constable Ronnie Boyce. Constable Boyce gives us an insight into how the Stranraer group was formed:
Constable Boyce said: “I was lucky enough to be offered the role of coordinator for the first PSYV group in Dumfries and Galloway.
“The PSYV is designed to provide as safe environment for 24 young people aged between 13 and 18 years old. The justification for the lower age limit is based around health and safety, supervision levels required, benefits for the young person and suitability of activities in which we engage. The upper age limit has been set as after 18 the young people become adults and are therefore more suited to a supervisory role.
“The PSYV programme encourages young people to learn as individuals as well as a team. We aim to prepare young people for the future by providing varied activities and opportunities to develop qualifications, enhance inter-personal skills and confidence and achieve a sense of pride through supporting opportunity policing. Police Scotland is not looking for future Police Officers, this project will enhance young people’s opportunities for further education, employment and training.
“Although Police Scotland is leading this project the group is formed mainly of youth and adult volunteers. We started by putting out an advert for adult volunteers who would be willing to give up some of their spare time to assist the group. I am delighted to have 9 adult volunteers who have been a fantastic support and have brought with them their own experience and knowledge. All our adult volunteers have undergone a weekend training course at the Scottish Police College. This group would not be as successful as it has been without the help of our adult volunteers and for that I would like to thank them all for their continued support.
“We thereafter began the recruitment process for our Youth Volunteers and spoke at school assemblies at Stranraer Academy to explain to young people what PSYV was about. This quickly followed with over 100 applications from young people aged between 13 and 17 years old. The standard of applications was very high and I was very impressed by the depth some of the young people went into on their personal statement.
“Once we had selected our group of 24 Youth Volunteers, they began a 12 hour basic training course in May 2015, during which time they received training in radio communications, notebooks, drill, standards, rules and expectations as well as ethics and standards. The group also recently completed First Aid Training delivered by Heart Start Scotland.
“Following completion of basic training, and the allocation of uniforms, our group began to be involved in assisting their communities.”
The group attended the following events during the summer period:
Armed Forces Day in Stranraer – assisted with the logistics and safety of the event.
Stranraer Charity Football Day – collected on behalf of Marie Curie as well as assisting with road safety.
Stranraer Show – assisted with the safety of the show, making sure young children were reunited with parents etc.
Wickerman Festival – gave out wristbands to small children that had parents/guardians details written on. Over 800 were handed out in 2 days.
Portpatrick Lifeboat Week – assisted with point’s duties at road junctions for the family fun run and also road safety duties at the raft race.
Youthbeatz Dumfries – assisted with getting all entrants into the event safely, they also assisted Young Scot doing questionnaires with young people.
Parkfest – assisted with entry duties as well as the safe running of the event in Agnew Park over the 2 days. The group also assisted in the fund raising at the event.
Newton Stewart 10k and Santa Dash – the group assisted at checkpoints and handed out water to runners during the event. This again was a local charity event.
Lowland Gathering – assisted with the parking duties as well as carrying out questionnaires with visitors on behalf of the organisers. The group also escorted the pipe bands around Stranraer Town Centre.
Run 4 Health – assisted with safety at the event by organising parking as well as being at checkpoints throughout the run making sure everyone was okay. Some of the group also ran the event and all of the group raised funds for the event. Our group raised £1,132.50 for Marie Curie Cancer care.
Primary School Triathalon – the group assisted with this event during which time about 800 primary school children attended throughout the day. The group made sure all the children knew where they were supposed to go and acted as escorts.
The group are also planning to support the forthcoming Remembrance Day Parades as well as other local activities such as the upcoming Stranraer 10k.
The group are also planning safety events in the area particularly for old people. The plan is to do a leaflet drop to make people in their community aware of security at their homes.
Organisers continue to plan and look forward to supporting local events throughout the Autumn/Winter period. The group are assisting at Remembrance Parades as well as the upcoming Stranraer 10k. They are also involved with the local Christmas Committee whereby events will take place every Saturday during December. They also have plans for some of out group to go into local primary schools to support local initiatives.
PSYV Stranraer will also assist national initiatives that involve making their neighbourhoods a safer place to be by offering security advice and signposting people to the necessary support.
PC Boyce commented: “I am very proud of our group and have watched them grow as individuals and as a team over the last few months. Our group is always coming up with new ideas to support our community whether that is attending events or fundraising.
“One of the most pleasing aspects for me is watching 24 young people of all ages and gender, who hardly knew each other, form bonds and create a team ethos that in my opinion is unrivalled. Our group will help and encourage other members who may be struggling with a part of training.
“The response our group has received in the community has been amazing; we have received glowing responses from organisers and members of the public, the words mentioned have been endeavour, enthusiasm and professionalism. Our team is always very keen to give something back and are very proud to be positive citizens.
“We have also received support from local organisations whether through funding or borrowing vehicles which is very much appreciated.”