Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) Academic Evaluation

Closed 1 Apr 2024

Opened 1 Apr 2024


Police Scotland has commissioned the first ever academic-led evaluation of the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers programme. Running over two and a half years, the evaluation will seek to understand more about the difference the programme makes in the lives of young people in our communities, as well as further benefits experienced by local areas through having youth volunteering embedded. 

We want to understand what positive outcomes, if any, the programme enables and where there could be changes or improvements to enhance young people's experiences through taking part. The evaluation is being conducted by the Institute for Public Safety, Crime & Justice (IPSCJ) at the University of Northampton. A final report will be produced in Autumn 2025.


IPSCJ will engage with PSYV youth volunteers, group co-ordinators as well as partners and stakeholders through a series of surveys, ethnographic case studies and one to one interviews. This will seek to build a holistic mixed-methods approach to research, enabling Police Scotland to take an evidence-led approach to the future iteration and development of the PSYV programme across Scotland. 

Impact and learning 

Our core research questions that we are seeking to answer through this project are set out below. 

  1. To understand the views of youth and adult volunteers, including experiences, views towards PSYV and their development and learning opportunities.
  2. Transitions are key stages in young people’s life where a change takes place. Changes can be small or big, but individual young people can be affected by changes in different ways. For some young people this can be easy to navigate, for others it can be less so. We are keen to explore whether PSYV enables positive transitions as young people grow up.
  3. Explore the impact of PSYV over the longer term; understanding what happens when people leave PSYV and if they are likely to secure positive destinations as a result of their involvement with the programme.
  4. Assess the extent to which PSYV contributes towards Strategic Outcomes (Joint Strategy for Policing (2023-26)) and the national Youth Work Outcomes for Scotland.

This research is underpinned by a children’s rights approach, exploring how PSYV supports, promotes and protects the rights our youth volunteers hold, as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Research outputs 

An Interim Report has been published, as well as a quick-read summary report, which are available to download in the section at the bottom of this page.

You can also view a video presentation of the key interim findings in the video below.


Key messages from the interim report: 

  • Over 8 in 10 PSYV youth volunteers rated being a PSYV as a having a positive impact on their skills; communication (89%), teamworking (94%) and problem-solving skills (88%), resilience (81%) and confidence (83%).
  • The array of opportunities provided to the youth volunteers was also raised as a significant benefit, as they encourage social development and stronger community bonds, through volunteering and socialising with their peers and community.
  • Around 7 in 10 PSYVs responded that they think Police Scotland upholds the values of integrity (65%), fairness (62%), respect (71%) and human rights (72%) to a ‘great extent’.
  • 97% of youth volunteers agreed ‘volunteering is a good way to gain life experience’, as many stated it would help them in their future education and/or career.
  • 71% of alumni respondents stated that being in PSYV had influenced their decision making in terms of what they wanted to do in life, and 92% stated the programme had helped them with a job application, and 87% for an education placement.
  • The adult staff and volunteers were overall very positive, with 95% stating that they enjoy their role and almost all respondents would recommend their role to others.
  • Key areas of development include establishing mechanisms for young people to consistently have a voice and say into how the programme is run. It is recommended that the role of PSYVs at events are clearly defined through clear guidance to the youths to make the volunteering experience more purposeful.
  • It is recommended that enhanced safeguarding training is made available to all adult staff and volunteers as 62% agreed they would like to see more national guidance and consistency in respect of safeguarding.

More information

You can get in touch with the team using the contact details on this page to find out more about this programme.

The researchers working on this programme are: 

  • Professor Matthew Callender, Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Studies and Director

  • Kathryn Cahalin, Researcher

  • Dr Iain Britton, Visiting Fellow. 

Find out more about them and the work of IPSCJ on their website.


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  • Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV)


  • Case study