Wearing the distinguished yellow, black-marked uniform, hijab-clad Nadia Naeem, patrols the streets of Oxfordshire, a county in the South East of England, to maintain law and order, British media reported on Thursday, August 16.
Naeem, a resident of Bicester town, is one of four police community support officers (PCSOs) hired by Thames Valley Police, Britain's biggest police force, said the Daily Mail.
Like her colleagues, she has the power to issue penalty notices, pull over vehicles and stop and search suspects, an anti-terror measure infamous among British Muslims.
Naeem joined the force -- which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire -- in February when she was 17.
At the time, she had the power to seize alcohol from anyone in the street despite being too young to drink herself.
The teens have since successfully passed all the assessments and tests that PCSOs are required to undertake.
The police community support officers were created in 2003 by then Home Secretary David Blunkett to be a high-visibility presence on streets.
At least five other forces are known to employ PCSOs under 18, or have admitted doing so in the past.
The revelation of teenage officers drew mixed reactions.
"What we are seeing in Thames Valley is chief officers and chief constables looking at ways to save money," said Metin Enver, a spokesman for the Police Federation, which represents officers below the rank of superintendent.
Thames Valley PCSOs earn £17,000 £20,000, depending on their work hours while a full PC starts at £21,000, rising to £33,000.
Enver said hiring "children" constitute a reckless attitude to public safety.
"By replacing sworn police officers with PCSOs we are not getting the level of maturity and expertise which local people will quite rightly want and deserve," he said.
"If someone does not have the level of expertise or maturity, especially in confrontational or aggressive situations, not only are they putting themselves at risk, but other members of public in danger."
Enver called for a minimum recruitment age for the civilian officers of 18, the same as for regular police officers.
Thames Valley force insisted that the five PCSOs demonstrated they have the skills needed for the job, reported Oxford Mail.
Acting Chief Con Nick Gargan said the recruits were better than the average teenager and is prepared to employ more PCSOs under the age of 18.
"They are exceptional people and it would be a shame if more people could not celebrate that fact."
Gargan asserted that applicants should not be discriminated against because of their age.
"I would be the first to agree the normal 17-year-old would not be ready or mature enough, but if they happen to be capable of the job on their own merits than why should we put unjustified barriers in their way?"
Evan Harris, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said it was encouraging youngsters were willing to be employed but asked for police to publish information on risk assessments.
Tony Baldry, the MP whose constituency covers Bicester, said he trusted the police recruitment process.
Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2007, 13:58