From training to station and whatever lies next… what to expect

Once you’ve been accepted as a probationary constable, the next step is training.

You’ll learn what it takes to be an Authorised Firearms Officer and you’ll also learn a lot about yourself and where your future could lie in the MDP.

Highly experienced police trainers will demonstrate how to use your wits, and not just physical force, to handle situations as a police officer. Those could range from dealing with a struggling peace protestor to a potential terrorist threat.

Initial training

Firearms training outside a building

All new recruits are required to successfully qualify as an Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) as part of their initial training. MDP officers are trained to National Police Standards and must maintain their firearms qualifications by completing refresher training on an annual basis.

Training for New Recruits serving at stations in England

Upon commencement of employment all new recruits who will be serving in England will be enrolled on the Level 4 Non-Home Office Police Officer Apprenticeship delivered by the MDP. This is a two-year apprenticeship including 20 weeks training.

You will spend the first 12 weeks of your training at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG), Southwick Park, Hampshire and then 8 weeks carrying out firearms training at one of our regional hubs, with sessions split between the classroom, tactical training area and firearms ranges.

After completing your firearms training you will carry out the remainder of your training on station. Once complete, your apprenticeship will be signed off by an outside agency at the End Point Assessment. This will consist of knowledge checks, a professional discussion, and a practical assessment.

Training for New Recruits serving at stations in Scotland

New recruits who will be serving in Scotland will be enrolled on a Level 7 Scottish Diploma delivered by the MDP at Coulport, in Argyll and Bute. This is also a two-year course, where apprentices will undertake 12 weeks of Probationer Training Programme (PTP) and 8 weeks firearms training at one of our regional hubs, with sessions split between the classroom, tactical training area and firearms ranges.

After completing your firearms training you will carry out the remainder of your training on station and apprentices will be required to complete exams and an operational module assessed debrief.

Training for New Entrants from other Police Forces

The course for new entrants from other police forces (NEOF) is 9 weeks which includes a 8-week Initial Firearms Course. However, where an officer is already a fully qualified AFO, the training period will be determined by the firearms training team. In most cases this will be a 5-day conversion course however, this can vary and will be confirmed prior to training commencing.

Officers who are employed in a role that does not require them to be firearms trained from the outset, will undertake a 5 day course.

For all candidates starting their career with the MDP, information on where your firearms training will take place and accommodation and meal arrangements, will be provided as part of your course joining instructions.


Upon completion of initial training, I knew that I wanted to become a National Firearms Instructor (NFI). During my probation I expressed my interest and was selected for NFI training early on in my career. Since then I have flourished as an NFI and have also become an Operational Firearms Commander.


Firearms training

MDP Authorised Firearms Officer with firearm aimed at suspect in training scenario

During your firearms module you’ll receive training in weapon handling, shooting skills, less lethal options and tactics. In scenario-based training (in buildings, vehicles and open areas), this will allow you to demonstrate critical decision-making in a pressured timeframe.

The training includes first aid, from basic to post incident management. You’ll also be trained on how to use your negotiating skills and how to deal with vulnerable people.

We invest lots of time in to training our AFOs. This allows us to devote our attention to students during their initial training period and it means that only a very small number of students are unable to successfully pass the course.

Students are assessed against performance criteria contained within the National Police Firearms Training Curriculum; they must successfully complete all elements in order to pass the course. Students experiencing difficulties will be given a specific development plan in order to meet their individual learner needs.

An ongoing training requirement

MDP new recruits’ Personal Safety Training

You will need to complete refresher and development training each year. This will comprise of tactical training, development and qualification shooting and first aid training.

Officers are monitored by a continuous assessment process and they must continue to display competence in their existing skills in order to remain authorised.

A pre-requisite for firearms training is that officers must maintain annual medical and fitness standards and be competent in Personal Safety Training.

Upon completion of your probation, you will have opportunities to gain further firearms skills, if you want to develop your career in one of our specialist units or roles.