Ian, Explosive Search Dog Handler, PC
“As a child growing up in the Medway Towns, I originally had career aspirations to join the Police. However, after joining the Marine Cadets, my attention soon focused on a career in the Armed Forces. As a member of the cadet band I originally wanted to join the Royal Marines as a Bugler, but after attending a musical event in France I was offered a place in an Army Band that was also performing there. This turned out to be the beginning of a 30-year career.
“Not long after joining the Army I spent a year at the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall Twickenham. That is where I first became aware of the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP). As the establishment did not have armed security on site and, given that there was still a significant threat from the IRA, the MDP regularly carried out armed patrols around the location. Having spoken to the officers on several occasions about what they did and the role of the MDP, I remember thinking that working with the Force could be a possible option for me when I left the Army.”
Time for a change
“Fast forward 28 years and I was beginning to think that it might be time for a change. As it happens the MDP had just started a recruiting campaign on Facebook, so I took a chance. At this point I was still serving in the Army so, out of courtesy, I made my Commanding Officer aware that I was looking into options for a change of career. Once I had passed the initial paper sift, the next step was to take part in the assessment centre process. This included several talks from serving PCs and a Q&A with the HR department on the application process. By the time the assessment centre process was over I had decided that being a police officer with the MDP was something that I would like to do.”
Why the MDP appealed to me
“There were several reasons that made the MDP an attractive prospect to me. One of which was the work/downtime ratio. Having spent 30 years in the Army, without any set working routine at that time, the thought of working a set shift pattern really appealed to me, as did being able to book my own holidays and make plans, in advance.
“Another selling point for me was that, like the Army, the MDP is a team sport. I always enjoyed working as part of a team and I could see that the duties on stations all required strong teamwork. The chance to explore different specialisms within the MDP, following probation and sometimes sooner, was also of interest to me. At the time I was particularly interested in joining one of the Marine Units or possibly becoming a dog handler.
“And the final point that made a career with the MDP particularly attractive to me, was that to a certain extent it was a job that I had done before. At various times, all service personnel (yes even the bands) will have had to perform armed protective guarding duties. That is a primary part of the MDP’s role in providing specialist armed policing at Defence establishments and sites of national importance, protecting personnel and assets, whether it be on site or patrolling in a vehicle. That is of course not all we do in the MDP though, for example, when called upon, I’ve had to deal with road traffic collisions and incidents of domestic violence.”
Should I stay or should I go… decision time
“Well, as it happened, I passed the MDP assessment process and so it became crunch time, as to whether I pushed the magic button or not. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision. I had spent virtually all my adult life in the Army. I had a guaranteed income; I knew the job inside out and I was living in Service Family Accommodation for well below market rate. I also had my wife’s career to think about too because although the MDP gives you the option to provide location preferences, nothing can be guaranteed. Luckily, my wife was very supportive. A wise man once told me that it doesn’t matter how long you’re allowed to serve, you’ll know when it’s time to leave: for me, that time had come. I called the Recruitment Team to confirm that I would need to give a whole year’s notice to the Army. They said that was not a problem and a note was placed on my file for me to be allocated a course place to begin after my expected date for leaving the army.
“About two months before my leaving date, I received my job offer and a start date for my initial training. The whole process of joining the MDP took me about 18 months, so if you want to walk straight in the door from the services it will take some planning.”
Life in the MDP
“I’ve now spent just under five years in the MDP and at no point have I regretted my decision to leave the Army to do this. I was initially stationed at Regents Park Barracks in London, before moving closer to home and I now work at RAF Alconbury. During my time with the MDP, I’ve worked with people from all walks of life and made some really good
friends. I have got a great work life balance and it is good to have the choice of doing
extra work (if available and required) and getting paid extra for it too.
When I first joined MDP I had ambitions of becoming a dog handler, I am very pleased to report that I have achieved this goal and I now work at RAF Alconbury with a three year old Explosive Search Detection Dog (ESDD).
If you’re considering joining the MDP from the military services, I hope my story helps to
answer your questions and shows you that different career paths are achievable. I wish
you all the best in whatever you choose to do after service life.”