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Ministry of Defense Police

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has its own dedicated civil police force, known as the MOD Police or MDP. It is not a military force. MDP officers, who have the same powers as other police officers, specialise in providing national armed security.

MDP officers can be deployed at any one of over 70 MOD units or establishments throughout the UK. They also serve overseas.

At any one time, 75 per cent of the force is deployed on armed duties, including protection of the UK's nuclear deterrent. In addition, the force provides uniformed, unarmed policing, especially at larger MOD bases, protecting the families who live and work in the defence community.

Trained officers can apply to join one of the force's specialist units, such as the Marine Units, which protect naval bases, or the Fraud Squad.

MDP officers usually work 12-hour shifts, including nights, weekends and public holidays. They work in a range of outdoor and indoor conditions and situations. Working environments can potentially be dangerous, or physically and psychologically challenging.

Salaries for constables range from £20,225 on appointment to around £31,000 a year, with senior officers earning considerably more.

MDP officers need to be:

  • good communicators
  • self-disciplined and confident
  • capable of making clear, fast judgements under intense pressure
  • vigilant at all times, even during long periods of inactivity
  • able to work well in a team
  • flexible and prepared to relocate at short notice.

The MDP employs around 3,400 officers. Applicants must be British citizens aged 18 or over who have lived in the UK for the last five years. There are no set educational requirements. Applicants who are successful in the first stage of the recruitment process are invited to attend a two-day assessment where they complete a written exercise, four interactive exercises, a firearms assessment and a physical fitness test. Medicals follow for successful applicants.

New recruits complete a two-year probationary period. This includes a 15-week residential training programme followed by practical experience to learn core operational skills. Within this training, officers undertake and must pass the MDP's firearms training course. Specific training relevant to operational activities, such as specialist firearms training, is provided.

There are opportunities for experienced officers to gain promotion to sergeant, inspector, chief inspector and more senior ranks.

What is the work like?

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has its own dedicated civil police force, known as the MOD Police or MDP. It is not a military force. MDP officers, who have the same powers as other police officers, are deployed nationally, serving over 70 MOD establishments and units.

The MDP specialises in armed security. At any one time, 75 per cent of the force is deployed on armed duties, including protection of the UK's nuclear deterrent. In addition, the force provides uniformed, unarmed policing, especially at larger MOD bases, to protect the families who live and work in the defence community.

MDP officers, once they have completed a probationary period, may apply to join one of the force's various specialist units, which include:

  • MDP Fraud Squad, which protects MOD assets and specialises in serious or complex fraud
  • Marine Units, responsible for protecting naval bases and for escorting ships and submarines as they move out to sea
  • Operational Support Unit, a mobile, flexible force which can be deployed anywhere in the UK at short notice, for instance for ammunition and explosives searches or to deal with nuclear, chemical and biological hazards
  • Special Escort Group, which protects nuclear materials when they are moved between MOD sites
  • Dog Section, which has around 300 trained police dogs, providing general patrols and searching for arms, explosives and drugs

International Deployment, who are experienced MDP officers involved overseas in peacekeeping and conflict resolution duties. Typically, they train local police forces to help them re-establish law and order in areas that have suffered considerable turmoil.

Hours and environment

MDP officers have standard contract working hours of 40 hours a week on average. Most officers work 12-hour shifts, providing cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Officers work in a range of outdoor and indoor conditions and situations. Working environments can potentially be dangerous or physically and psychologically challenging.

Uniforms are provided.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • MDP constables are paid £20,225 a year on appointment.
  • This rises to £22,578 on completion of 33 weeks' training.
  • Salaries at the upper range for MDP constables are around £31,000 a year. Senior officers earn considerably more.

Salaries are determined by an officer's rank and the number of years' service. Extra annual allowances are available for officers permanently based in some regions in the South East, areas bordering the Metropolitan police district and London.

Skills and personal qualities

MDP officers need to be:

  • good communicators
  • able to work well in a team, fitting into a disciplined, organised structure
  • capable of making clear, fast judgements under intense pressure
  • self-disciplined and confident
  • vigilant at all times, even during long periods of inactivity
  • flexible and prepared to relocate at short notice
  • non-judgemental and tolerant
  • calm, even in distressing or dangerous situations
  • reasonably physically fit and mentally strong
  • well-organised.

Interests

MDP officers should be interested in:

  • upholding law and order
  • serving and protecting communities and the country
  • working with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Getting in

The MDP is a national police force, employing around 3,400 officers. Its headquarters are at Wethersfield, near Braintree in Essex.

Officers may be posted to any one of 70 MOD locations around the UK and may also be sent overseas.

Application forms can be downloaded from the MDP website.

Entry routes

There are no set educational requirements. Some community, voluntary or armed forces experience may be beneficial.

Applicants must be British citizens aged 18 or over, have resided in the UK for the last five years (excluding overseas service in the armed forces) and be reasonably physically fit.

The selection process involves completing a competency-based questionnaire. If successful at application stage, candidates are invited to attend a two-day assessment. This involves completing written exercises, an interview and four interactive exercises to assess candidates' core skills such as communication, problem solving and decision making. The two-day assessment also involves a firearms assessment and a physical fitness test. Advice on preparing for the assessment can be found on the MDP website.

Candidates who wear spectacles or contact lenses are accepted but restrictions apply. A medical examination follows for applicants who are successful at the assessment centre stage.

Any criminal convictions must be disclosed on application. The MDP judges each case on its merits. Reference and security checks are completed as part of the process.

A driving licence is not required for entry to the MDP, but not having a licence may restrict the type of duties an officer is able to undertake.

For those who wish to gain relevant qualifications before applying to the MDP, there are a number available. These include:

  • BTEC Level 1 Certificate in public services
  • NVQ Level 2 in public services
  • BTEC National Certificate and Diploma in uniformed public services
  • Diploma in public services, available from September 2010
  • foundation degrees in public services and police studies
  • degrees in subjects such as policing, police studies, criminology and criminal justice.

Training

Probationary training starts with a 15-week residential induction programme at the MDP Wethersfield Training College. Tutored in a classroom setting, probationary officers undertake written and practical assessments to demonstrate their understanding of:

  • legislation and criminal law
  • MDP policies and procedures
  • firearms.

The remainder of the two-year probationary period is usually spent at Aldermaston or Burghfield in Berkshire, learning the core operational skills. For approximately 15 months, officers train alongside a tutor constable. When operational commitments allow, they may have opportunities to visit specialist units, to help them decide which area of MDP work they wish to specialise in.

Within this training, officers undertake and must pass the MDP's firearms training course. This includes weapons handling, marksmanship and tactical training, with simulated exercises to help officers judge their approach to different situations. After their probationary training has finished, MDP officers continue to receive regular firearms training.

Towards the end of their probationary training officers take a week-long local training course and then go on independent patrol.

Officers are expected to serve at their initial posting for a minimum period of three years, the first two of which are classed as the probationary period.

Specific training relevant to operational activities is provided. For example, officers in the Marine Unit are trained to skipper vessels of up to 60 tonnes. Other officers receive specialist firearms training.

Getting on

There are opportunities for candidates to progress from constable through the MDP ranking structure to sergeant, inspector, chief inspector and the senior ranks.

Further information

Ministry of Defence Police Recruiting Department, Building 66, MDP Wethersfield, Braintree, Essex CM7 4AZ. Website: www.modpoliceofficers.co.uk

Skills for Justice, Centre Court, Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ. 0114 261 1499. Website: www.skillsforjustice.com

 

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