Ex-Police Cadets
Association of NSW

Police Cadets History


1933, the Metropolitan Superintendent, William John MacKay, who later became the Commissioner of Police, introduced a system of Police Cadets as part of the New South Wales Police Department. The innovation was not immediately popular with members of the Force because it was feared that cadets would become a "select group" of potential officers, similar to cadets training in selective schools of the Armed Services. When it was established, however, that the only material advantage to cadets would be sectional clerical experience and extended long service leave benefits the system was accepted and finally approved.

On June 12, 1933, twelve Police Cadets, the sons of serving Policemen, were appointed to the Police Force and attached to various sections and metropolitan city stations. The Cadets were an immediate success and on 19 October of that year, an additional 18 Cadets were recruited. Of this intake, only a few were sons of Policemen. The rate of pay was £2 weekly. The first of the intake of original Cadets was sworn in during 1936, and by 1962, many of them were serving as Sergeants and Detective Sergeants in important sectional positions. Since 1933 and up until 1962, over 1,700 Cadets had been enrolled in the Police Service.

The working conditions of Police Cadets improved greatly over the first two decades and by 1962 all Police Cadets received training in Statute Law, Police Procedure, Police Practice and Duties, English, Shorthand, Speech Culture, Physical Training, Squad Drill, and all sporting pursuits. A select few also attended a course of wireless instruction at the Marconi School of Wireless.


In November 1956 it was decided to place police Cadets, in uniform very similar to that worn by police but with a distinctive cap band, on selected school crossings to alleviate the work of traffic police. This immediately raised the ire of the Executive Committee of the police union, the NSW Police Association. The Committee voiced objections to the Commissioner of the day, Colin Delaney, which were based not only on protecting police duties but also because of the risks cadets might face. There was the lack of protection from legal liability, the tenuous situation if they were injured and a fear that cadets would be used in traffic control. The Commissioner was unmoved and the scheme was introduced. The following school holidays saw the Association's fears realised. With no school crossings to supervise, the uniformed cadets were deployed to assist police in the City of Sydney to assist control the vast crowds of Christmas shoppers who flocked to the metropolis. A compromise was reached when representations to the Premier, JJ Cahill, resulted in those uniformed cadets reverting to plain clothes during school holidays.


In 1962 enrolment in the Police Cadet Service was open to youths between the ages of 15 and 18 years who were of excellent character, weighed approximately 10st. 7lbs., measured not less than 5ft. 8 1/2in. in height, educated to a higher primary or secondary school standard and were of such physical proportions as to reasonably indicate that upon attaining the age of 19 years they would fulfil all physical requirements for appointment to the Police Force.

As young men they could now be appointed to the Police Force at the age of 19 years, but it was not the practice to accept applications for cadet appointment from youths above the age of 17 1/2 years unless the applicant was in the possession of outstanding qualifications.


The object of the Cadet Service was to keep Cadets mentally and physically alert, and to embody in their training a high standard of discipline, dress, and bearing. The tutorial syllabus was designed to prepare Cadets for their future training as Probationary Constables, and to assimilate the fundamental principles of Statute Law, and the necessity of a basic understanding of human relations.

At the age of 18 years selected Cadets were assigned to duty at selected school crossings in Cadet uniform. In 1962 Police Cadets effectively controlled 30 school crossings, relieving Traffic Police for more pressing and important road patrol duties.


During the period of training all Police Cadets were required to participate in the "Silver Baton Award" competition, which was awarded annually to the Cadet attaining the highest marks in the full training curriculum and syllabus of studies. All Cadets in the Public Speaking Class were required to participate in the annual "Mervyn Finlay Prepared Speech Competition", for which the winner received a handsome trophy.


At the commencement of the Cadet system in 1933 it was the practice for Cadets to attend approved Business Colleges in their own time and at their own expense for instruction in typing and shorthand. In 1938 shorthand classes were inaugurated at the Criminal Investigation Branch under the direction of qualified Police Instructors. Attendance at these classes was on a voluntary basis. In 1940, at the instigation of Commissioner of Police, William J MacKay, daily shorthand instructional classes were officially included in the syllabus of studies for all Cadets.

In 1962 Cadets entering the service were required to study shorthand and enter into a departmental contract to write shorthand at a speed ranging from 100 to 120 words per minute at a specified period of their training. Cadets studying the theory of shorthand were required to attend an approved business collage at their own expense.

In addition to attending daily courses at the Police Training Centre. Upon graduation from the theory class Cadets terminated private tuition and then received instruction in the Low and High Speed classes conducted four mornings weekly, until they could attain their contract rate. Up until 1962 and since the inauguration of the system over 1,700 Cadets have received shorthand tuition. All had attained speeds of 120 words per minute, and 5%, had achieved speeds in excess of 150 words per minute, the qualifying standard for appointment as official departmental shorthand writers.

The use of shorthand proved of inestimable value to Cadets when later appointed Probationary Constables, in the recording of wireless and telephone messages and the taking of statements at accident and various crime scenes. A large number of ex-Cadets were utilised in the offices of country Superintendents and Inspectors as clerks, whilst twelve high speed writers were permanently employed at Police Headquarters on special investigations and departmental conferences.


In 1962 all Commonwealth Police organisations had adopted the New South Wales Police Cadet training system. Strangely enough, the cadet system, based on Sydney methods, was not introduced into the London Metropolitan Police Force until 1951. It is now firmly established in that world-famous organisation and it is anticipated that Cadets will soon constitute one-half of the intake of new trainees.

The Police Cadet Service proved an outstanding success and a vital acquisition to the New South Wales Police Force in suitably preparing young men for a qualified and an efficient approach to Police procedure, and the manifold responsibilities and difficulties of their chosen career.


There is a saying that,"All good things must come to an end". The police cadet scheme was no exception and, eventually, succumbed to this adage. The intake of July 1977 was the last group of youths recruited to become Police Cadets.  Many reasons can be advanced as causing this state of affairs: the demise of apprenticeships in society generally; the success of the Wyndham Scheme which added an extra year to high school attendance thus robbing the cadet scheme of potential recruits aged 15 and 16 years of age; the growing trend of high school students to continue their education to obtain the Higher School Certificate, together with the desire to obtain a university education.

On 7 July 1980, Commissioner James Travers Lees, who was a former cadet, administered the oath of office to Cadet Anthony James McWhirter, who then became a Probationary Constable in the Police Force. With that ceremony completed, there were no more cadets and the scheme, which had commenced in June 1933, some 47 years earlier, ceased to exist.