More than 100 pioneering youth volunteers from Police Scotland have been recognised by the Chief Constable and are set to serve their communities after a passing out parade.
The event, held at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan, was attended by Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House QPM, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the family and friends of the youth volunteers.
Five groups of volunteers, who came from communities in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Cumnock were recognised.
The project has been carried out between Police Scotland, charity Young Scot and YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work.
All the volunteers participated in a range of activities aimed at instilling values of citizenship and public service over a 12-week induction period.
Training included working with police officers and teachers to learn about the rank and structure of the police as well as a range of specialist functions.
It is anticipated that many of the volunteers will have the opportunity to deploy at the Commonwealth Games later this year as well as the Junior Ryder Cup in September.
A pilot youth volunteer scheme was previously held involving young people from two school communities from Cumnock and Auchinleck Academies.
The 24 young people from Ayrshire took part in a volunteering pilot programme at Dumfries House, Cumnock. They were previously recognised by HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay.
Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House QPM said: "Police Scotland is dedicated to keeping people safe and it is vital that we engage with young people to strengthen links with our communities.
"It is fantastic to see so many young and enthusiastic people involved and we hope that they will have the chance to be deployed at many exciting new opportunities.
"They will take on a number of roles and although they will be identified through their uniform as Police Scotland Youth Volunteers they are not there to carry out policing functions.
"Through the programme the young people have grown in confidence and developed leadership skills and it is anticipated that the scheme will be further developed."
Sergeant Craig Rankine, National Programme Manager of Police Scotland Youth Volunteers, said: "The PSYV represents a fantastic and unique opportunity for young people across Scotland to become involved in positive volunteering opportunities nationwide.
"This is a bespoke initiative designed to provide positive opportunities and destinations for the young people involved and represents a significant commitment by Police Scotland to engage positively with young people in the communities which we serve.
"We are working closely with partners in Young Scot, YouthLink Scotland and the Scottish Government to ensure that our programme highlights the positive and often unseen contribution that young people bring to our towns and cities. We have also linked all of our future volunteering opportunities to national awards such as Duke of Edinburgh, Saltire and Youth achievement awards, to ensure our young people gain the appropriate recognition for their efforts as the programme develops."
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive at Young Scot, said: "Young Scot are delighted to be working in partnership with Police Scotland and our colleagues at YouthLink Scotland to give young people from a wide range of backgrounds the opportunity to gain an insight into Policing in Scotland. It will help to deepen engagement between the Police and young people, increasing dialogue and breaking down barriers, as well as leading to exciting new opportunities for young people over the coming months.
"The development of this programme follows on directly from the ‘Your Future, Your Police’ project run by Young Scot and Police Scotland, which enabled young people from across Scotland to share their ideas, insight and experiences to decision makers in the first year of Police Scotland, helping to shape its strategy and planning. We look forward to supporting the roll-out of the youth volunteers programme to other communities across Scotland in the coming year, along with a wider range of work which will help continue the dialogue between young people and the Police."
Jim Sweeney, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be involved in this partnership with Police Scotland and Young Scot. We feel the youth work training we provide can only enhance the experience of both leaders and volunteers and help ensure the effectiveness of the programme in making positive connections with young people at a local level."