Gwent Police has welcomed its newest recruits into the force after setting up a mini police unit in a Blaenau Gwent mosque, the first of its kind in Wales and the UK.
Blaina’s Berea Mosque has established a mini police force – Heddlu Bach in Welsh – with nine officers, aged 14 and under, who will be assisted by a cadet.
The unit is the 50th force to be set up by Gwent Police, which has nearly 1,000 children across the force area involved in the scheme.
A ceremony was held at the mosque on Monday 20 January, where the new Heddlu Bach members took the oath and received certificates from the Chief Constable, Pam Kelly, and the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Eleri Thomas MBE.
Chief Constable Pam Kelly said: “It was a proud moment to witness our 50th Heddlu Bach unit take the oath and join the force. This group of wonderful youngsters are leading by example, not just in their community but in Wales and the wider UK.
“We are fortunate to have strong links with the mosque through our neighbourhood team. So we took the decision to establish a Heddlu Bach unit in Berea to help broaden our understanding of our communities and aiming to build creating a strong, supportive community.
“I was struck by the maturity and the compassion for others shown by our new recruits, particular around their positive messaging of how we need to stand together for the community’s benefit.
The new Heddlu Bach recruits will formulate their own priorities as part of the programme, including visiting schools to talk about the Islamic faith and how it is similar and differs to Christianity and other faiths.
They will also, alongside police officers in the area, take part in activities such as litter picking, leaflet drops around crime prevention, walking buses, speed awareness and other activities like the other Heddlu Bach units.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “The Heddlu Bach scheme is a fun, interactive way for children to learn new skills, gain confidence in their abilities and play an active part in their local community.
“It builds trust and confidence between the police and children from an early age, while also helping to create a greater sense of cohesion within the wider community.
“I am proud that here in Gwent we have the first Heddlu Bach scheme in Wales to be based within a mosque and look forward to hearing more about their work in the coming months.”