To join MDP, you’ll need to be fit and healthy

Policing has never been an easy job. Our officers carry out a role that can be tough and demanding, often requiring them to deal with a variety of situations involving physical challenges. You need to have a reasonable level of strength, agility and stamina to be effective when operating in these conditions. You also need to be able to defend yourself and others.

One element of the assessment process is the Job-Related Fitness Test (JRFT), where candidates must pass the Multi-Stage Fitness Test (MSFT) – commonly known as the bleep test. You will need to reach a minimum of six shuttles at level 7 to pass the JRFT for the MDP; this is the national standard required for an Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO).

If you don’t pass the MSFT at the first attempt, you’ll be allowed a second attempt after a recommended period of training. If you are unsuccessful at the second test, your application will not be progressed and you’ll be unable to apply again for three months, subject to there being a live campaign.

Provided that you prepare and train for the test, there is no reason why you should be unsuccessful.

Once appointed, you will be required to maintain a good level of fitness. Your fitness will be regularly assessed during recruit training and you will be required to pass the JRFT during Initial Learning and Development training. Thereafter, officers are tested on an annual basis. Failure to maintain a pass at any stage may lead to your discharge. It is therefore essential to maintain your fitness levels.

Fitness test

What is the ‘bleep test’?

The MSFT (or “bleep test”) requires you to run continually between two lines, 15 meters apart, in time with an audio bleep. The timing between bleeps is slow at first (the bleeps are about seven seconds apart), but they become faster as the test progresses and it becomes more difficult to keep up with the required speed.

You must keep up with the speed of the bleeps as three consecutive missed lines will indicate the end of your test.

If you arrive at the line before the bleep sounds, you should turn around and wait for the bleep before starting to run again. You should adjust your pace and speed to ensure that you do not continue to arrive early, as this wastes valuable energy that you may need later in the test.

Upon reaching level 7.6, you will have successfully completed the Ministry of Defence Police JRFT stage of the recruitment process.

How to prepare and train

The key is to practice, practice, practice… You’ll need to find a 15-meter track – this could be at a local sports hall or outside – and download the MSFT recording; this is available on the College of Policing website. You can then carry out practice “bleep tests” which is by far the best way to prepare for the JRFT.

Part of your preparation should be to maintain and, if necessary, improve your general fitness by training three times a week for 30 – 40 minutes, doing varied but relevant activities. Setting yourself realistic targets will help you plan your training and keep you motivated.

Training Tips

  • Train with friends as this will make your exercise programme a more enjoyable and safer activity
  • Monitor your progress by recording time taken, distance covered and recovery time – this will give you feedback on improvements and an incentive to continue training
  • Do not over-do it – start gently and build up gradually over a period of weeks or months
  • Spread out your training sessions, rather than do all your activities in one day and do nothing else the rest of the week
  • Complete a warm-up before you begin any exercise – this will gently prepare your body for exercise by gradually increasing your heart rate and circulation, loosening your joints and increasing the blood flow to your muscles. Stretching your muscles also prevents injuries.

Warm-Up Tips

  • Start your warm-up slowly with small movements and gradually build up to larger movements involving multiple body parts, stretching all the major working muscles
  • Mobilise and warm-up all major muscles and joints paying special attention to those being used in the activity
  • Perform a warm-up activity that will raise your core body temperature, your heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Ensure part of your warm-up is specific to the activity you are going to perform

FAQ: Do I need to be able to swim to join the MDP?

There is currently no requirement for an individual to be able to swim to join us. However, where officers in the force are looking to transfer to or join one of our Marine Units, they are required to undertake a swimming test as part of the selection process.

Useful links

College of Policing Fitness Standards

Bleep test audio file