Police ‘academy’ for East End kids gets ready for Royal wedding duties

The two cops who run the police cadets in London’s East End have been overwhelmed by teenagers queuing to join.

Now Steve Austin and Peter Greene are briefing their young recruits for Royal Wedding duties next Friday.

They took over the cadets group at Tower Hamlets three years ago with just 15 youngsters. Now they have 65 on their books and more waiting to join.

The cadets arrive each Wednesday prompt at 6pm for roll-call before Steve reads out their assignments for the week.

The cadet centre in the grounds of Raine’s Foundation School in Bow is almost busting at the scenes. It can’t take many more.

Steve and Peter want to open a second centre on the Isle of Dogs, at George Green’s School, but there’s no budget.

Setting up needs at least �10,000, most of it for uniforms—and not counting the cost of deploying officers to run the unit.

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The only funding is whatever the Met Police can spare—usually zilch—or occasional grants from philanthropists like the Jack Petchey Foundation.

“It’s a struggle for cash,” Peter reveals. “No-one’s got money to spare. Uniforms are expensive.”

Yet the cadets are a good recruiting source for the Met.

This week, however, a new batch of uniforms arrives and the kids are eager to try them on.

A squad of 10 cadets has been selected to help with the Royal Wedding on April 29. It will be on duty in Hyde Park, meeting and greeting spectators or manning information points.

The roll-call ends and the cadets split into three teams, each in turn on an exercise to search for weapons that Peter has hidden in bushes or under waste bins in the school playground—a lethal knuckle-duster, cosh, stud belt, nun-chuck and an air gun, which have all been involved in street gang fights.

Police use their eager cadets for regular weapon ‘sweeps’, often on housing estates, because the teenagers are more likely to fathom out where their peers hide them. The last search was at Mile End Park last month following an incident.

The cadets are also used for ‘test’ purchases, when they are sent in to stores in ‘sting’ operations by council trading standards officers to see if shopkeepers are selling alcohol, cigarettes or fireworks to under-age youngsters. It has led to several prosecutions in the past.

The evening ends with a cricket match in the playground, weather permitting—all part of the cadets’ ‘team building’ camaraderie.

Occasionally one or two go ‘AWOL’—usually because they’ve got exams the next day at school.

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