They help regulate traffic and check minor crimes. They’ve made eve-teasers and drug peddlers disappear and stopped cigarettes and gutkhas from being sold near schools. And word of their effectiveness is spreading in the country.
They are the ‘kutty police’ (little policemen) of Kerala — schoolchildren aged between 14 and 18.
It all started as an experiment in August 2010 by then Kozhikode commissioner P Vijayan. Today, the Student Police Cadets (SPC) is an 11,000-strong force across 127 schools in the state.
Dressed in khakis, they can be seen patrolling around schools morning and evening. They receive training from teachers trained as school-level community policing. Their lessons include physical training and awareness of social maladies and crime.
Explaining why the young force was raised, Vijayan, now Thrissur police commissioner and nodal officer of the SPC, said more than 50% of the country’s population is less than 25 years old. “This farsighted school-level activity will generate big benefits like greater internal security, healthier and safer communities, and responsible future citizens,” he said.
Many, including former R&AW chief Hormis Tharakan, have praised the initiative. It has also caught the attention of the 2011 All India Police Science Congress, which recommended all states to raise SPC units. The National Police Mission and the Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh governments have sought details.
“Their surveillance is perfect and petty crimes involving children have come down drastically,” said community police officer BS Shyam Kumar.
“We are better equipped to feel the pulse of our fellow students. One of my seniors even averted a suicide,” said Jatin K, a class 10 cadet from Palakkad.