Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) Officer

The Job and What's Involved

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.

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.

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.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

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.

Education and Training

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.
  • Foundation degrees in public services and police studies.
  • Degrees in subjects such as policing, police studies, criminology and criminal justice.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

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.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

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.

Your Long Term Prospects

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

Get Further Information

Ministry of Defence Police Recruiting Department,
Building 66, MDP Wethersfield,
Essex CM7 4AZ

Skills for Justice, Centre Court,
Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ
Tel: 0114 261 1499

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