Royal Air Force Air Cadets from the from Nuneaton and other local units have just returned from what has been described as a "Blue Light" camp at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding at Southwick Park.
Thirty-five Air Cadets and staff from the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing took part in a unique and extremely interesting camp at the Tri Service Police Training Centre at Southwick Park. This was the second time the establishment had hosted an Air Cadet camp for members of the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing.
The camps programme was varied and covered many aspects of the RAF Police Training delivered by the Southwick Park Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG). The training programme also included additional visits to RAF Odiham and the Royal Military Police (RMP) Close Protection Training Unit at Longmoor. The week long camp certainly opened all our eyes to the wide variety of work undertaken by the RAF Police and RMP together with the extra opportunities to specialise after completing phase two training.
The Southwick Park camp was significantly different to a normal camp on a RAF station and we were indeed fortunate to have the stations Deputy Air Cadet Liaison Officer, Cpl Adam Stuart RAFP assigned to us for the entire week - and he was an excellent role model for the cadets throughout the camp.
The week started with a visit to Fort Nelson (A Napoleonic Fort which overlooks Portsmouth). On their return to DSPG Southwick Park the Cadets started their Police training with some short lessons in law, (both civil and military), including when and how to conduct an arrest followed up by a Personal Safety training session. The cadets were amazed at the Protective Security session and the downfalls and risks associated with using social media such as facebook etc, and this really captured their attention.
The cadets also had an insight into the physical demands of Police training when they undertook the RAF fitness and swimming tests, many of them passed the required standards with some obtaining exceptionally high scores.
The police training undertaken by the cadets also included visits to Southwick Park’s mock Police station, Court Martial suite (a mock courtroom) and an Airport Security check-in training facility complete with x-ray machines etc. The Airport Security check-in proved to be a highly amusing activity with each cadet having a go at the different aspects of the check-in process and using computer simulators to see what the X-ray machines can really do with a testing exercise. The cadets also spent a whole morning undergoing CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) training that covered many aspects of this specialist role, from collecting samples, fingerprinting and DNA to photography - a visit they all found exceptionally interesting - conducted by members of the SIB (Special Investigation Branch) of the RMP (Royal Military Police).
The camp also visited the RMP Close Protection Unit at Longmoor where they train service bodyguards (looking after all VIP's abroad from Royals downwards). The cadets were extremely interested in their impressive range of weapons. To their amazement one of the instructors giving the presentation was an ex ATC cadet from 198 (Hinckley) Sqn which had staff and cadets on the camp. Both RMP and RAF Police officers who have completed the Close Protection course are now serving all over the world in this extremely dangerous and specialist role.
On top of this a day visit to RAF Odiham was included and although we were unlucky not to fly - the cadets saw an RAF Police section for real, and had a display of the Attack Police Dogs. Add to this a half day of fieldcraft training and a night ex with RAFP instructors the cadets had every day filled full of new and exciting activities. The evenings were also enjoyable with Laser Quest, Cinema, Pier visit, and the last night party with Pizza, but anyone there will testify that it was an interesting and tiring week with so much going on.
This was a very different camp to an annual camp on an RAF station (and their accommodation was probably the best I have seen - single rooms and a kitchen for each wing of 7 rooms). The cadets will not forget this camp.
The Central & East Regional Commandant, Group Captain Nigel Gorman also visited for a day and was particularly impressed with the range of activities offered, and the support given to the cadets by the station. His 2 daughters had passed out from DSPG some 10 years ago and he saw several activities that he didn’t see when he visited their pass out parade. He was also very pleased by the enthusiasm and commitment of the cadets taking part in the activities he witnessed.
The Air Cadet Camp Commandant Sqn Ldr Bryan Coats said. "This was a valuable opportunity for the RAF Police to dispel any preconceived ideas anyone had about the branch - and they certainly did that. It was a full week programme - with no gaps, and I have no doubt cadets will have learnt a great deal, and really enjoyed many parts of the activities. I thank the ACLO and the establishment for hosting us - and will not forget them. This was only the 2nd ever ATC camp at the centre, and hopefully as a result of the total success of the week, there may be others."
More photographs from the DSPG Southwick Park Camp
Training for a Career in the RAF Police