Sarah, Marine Unit Officer

Sarah, Ministry of Defence Police Marine Unit officer, standing by the dockside

Military service

From a young age I always had an interest in the military, when we would go to career fairs with school. Yet after leaving school I went down the sport and fitness route, studying at college for 2 years and then working as a Swimming Coach. As time went on, some of my friends had started travelling the world after finishing university. That was appealing to me but, as I had been working full time, I enjoyed seeing the wage going into my bank every month! After speaking with a couple of friends who were already serving in the Armed Forces, I decided that I wanted to join the RAF get paid, learn a trade and travel! Perfect!

In 2009, I Joined the Royal Air Force as a Medic. It was like joining a whole new family. My friends back home would never understand what I had done or was doing, but the people I worked with, no matter what trade, all had a mutual respect knowing that everyone had their part to play whether on operations or not. The social side was also great!

After serving overseas many times on different operations and in different countries over the 6 years I was in service, in 2014 I became injured. The following year I had minor surgery on my hand and reconstructive surgery on my ankle. For me, this was the push to leave the RAF.

How I heard about the MDP

My final posting with the RAF was at LintononOuse. As this was a small station, anyone who wasn’t in military uniform stuck out like a sore thumb, so when the MDP turned up in police vehicles, wearing all black, you couldn’t really miss them. I spoke to a couple of the officers about who they were and what they did. This sparked my interest and I started my research.

As a result of me having surgery and leaving the military whilst still on crutches, I knew I would have a way to go before passing any fitness tests or medicals… that’s if they would take me with my injuries. At that point in time, I therefore started working in hospital theatres, mainly orthopaedics.

Sarah in military uniform

Applying to join

Once I was able to start running again, I decided to apply for the MDP. At first, I didn’t get my hopes up. I thought that my injury may stop me joining and that I could be turned away, but there was no harm in at least trying. Despite my reservations, I passed my interviews and assessments and managed to pass my medical. The fitness test was no problem for my ankle at all. I was offered a position as an Authorised Firearms Officer and started my training in 2017.

I now work on the MDP Marine Unit and I still have that close connection to the military that I so missed whilst working in the hospital.

Why a career with MDP was the right choice for me

Being part of the police family has the same sort of feeling of solidarity as I felt being part of the military. Working at Defence sites, you have familiarity with your surroundings and communities, right from your first day. The police rank structure is also something that you can easily relate to, understand and respect having come from the Armed Forces.

Other aspects of life in the MDP that I felt very well equipped to deal with were that I already knew and understood discipline, how to march and look after my kit. Being around weapons and ammunition is second nature too. Some of the live firing ranges and training areas the MDP use, I have been to before on exercises with the RAF.

For me, fitness has always just been part of my life. Completing bleep tests is something that all Armed Forces personnel do, and, I also worked in fitness before joining the RAF. Although fitness training is not regimented in the MDP, for example with set fitness sessions, it is an operational requirement, and everyone is encouraged and supported to do their own fitness and make use of site gyms where possible.

With the MDP, you can stay at one station without the prospect of being moved every few years. However, if you do want to move, there are opportunities to do so, upon completion of probation. Likewise, you can put yourself forward for overtime and be deployed away from home on operations but, these are short-term detached duties and rarely outside the UK.

The sense of security and being able to settle down, that my role with the MDP has given me and my family, is great and I’m so glad to still be working in Defence too, where I feel that I really belong.