Following in Mum’s footsteps
Mother and daughter, Eileen and Amy, reflect on their reasons for choosing a career with the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP), and their experiences on joining our ‘Force with a difference’ — ‘then and now’.
THE special 50th Anniversary pass out parade, which took place at MDP HQ on 3 September, was a particularly special day for Eileen, a soon to be newly promoted MDP Inspector, as her daughter Amy graduated alongside our next generation of new recruits — the class of MDP 50.
Amy and Eileen were interviewed for Forces TV at the event, and a couple of months on, we caught up with them both on life as a new recruit on station, for Amy, and reflections on the past and looking ahead to the future, for Eileen.
Eileen — Police Inspector
Eileen joined the MDP in 1985 on her 20th birthday. She had considered being either a nurse or police officer, wanting to be able to help the public and make a difference on the front line. She also had a passion for classic cars.
“I was on my half term break at 16 with the intention of going back into further education to become a nurse. However, I got a job at my local garage, working in the stores department with the intention of becoming a mechanic. A trainee mechanic position became available but, I wasn’t considered as the garage owner did not employ female mechanics — it was the 80s! I continued working there for the next four years (and rebuilt my classic mini soft top!). One of my colleagues knew I was considering a career as a police officer. Her husband worked for the MDP at RNAD Beith, and they were recruiting. The rest, as they say, is history.
“My first station was HM Naval Base Clyde, known as Faslane. Ultimately though I wanted to be a Detective and I asked to go on a detachment to CID. My personal experience at the time was that I was told that female officers only did control room duties, although that was not actually the case with — for example — female dog officers and detectives at some other locations in the Force. I challenged this and was met with resistance. However, after three years, I secured a voluntarily transfer to Bicester Garrison, and off I set in my Ford Fiesta with all my worldly goods. I was determined to follow my dream of becoming a Detective.
“I really enjoyed my time at Bicester, including carrying out the role of what is now a Defence Community Police Officer (DCPO). I gained a lot of experience and passed my Sergeant exam, which helped me convert to English Law. I did my CID aide and attained the rank of a Detective Constable, completing 10 weeks of training with the West Yorkshire Police Detective Training School.
“I served a total of nearly 12 years as a DC at Bicester and travelled all over the UK, as well as having the opportunity to serve abroad. During that time, I trained as a Sexual Offences Officer (SOIT) with the Met and completed an accredited child video interviewing (Memorandum of Good Practice) course with Thames Valley Police (TVP). I was involved in dealing with crimes, that included rape, sexual assaults, attempted murder, GBH, criminal damage and burglaries.
“I got promoted to Police Sergeant at Bicester Garrison. Although I was offered Detective Sergeant, I took the PS post to have a shift pattern which allowed me to share childcare responsibilities with my husband, who was a serving officer with TVP. We basically worked opposite shifts and employed a full-time child minder.
“I left Bicester in 2000 and moved to US Navy London. I then took up a new post as the Senior Police Officer (SPO) at the USAF Base, RAF Croughton, where I have served from 2005 until now. Working with the American Airforce customer has been an honour. It is bitter-sweet to leave this role as SPO, as I move on to a new station on promotion to Inspector rank, but I am ready for a change and the new opportunities and challenges that a different role will bring.”
Eileen described her experiences of joining the MDP and how the role has changed:
“I spent 10 weeks at the MDP Training School at Medmenham. Firearms training was a couple of days learning how to use a 9mm Browning pistol. There were no Tactics training or Personal Safety Training! I remember being issued with a small truncheon, half the size of those issued to the male officers, which I carried in a black plastic handbag. Female officers were not issued trousers, we all had to wear skirts. Fitness was a mile and a half run and women were allowed a few extra minutes! There were no computers and no mobile phones when I joined, just a massive PYE radio which was not even personal issue.
“The purpose of the MDP has in many ways remained the same. We are employed by the MOD to protect its assets and personnel. However, how we deliver that purpose and perform the role has changed. When I joined, we were not routinely armed. Our main role was to cover entry and exit on the gates, checking passes and carrying out routine searches, with internal foot patrols to check buildings were secure. There were no liveried vehicles to identify us as Police. CID has now developed into Crime Command, where its work is focused on combatting serious crime and security threats to Defence, including organised crime, extremism, hostile activity, major fraud, theft, bribery and corruption.”
When asked about memories from her career and feelings towards Amy
joining the MDP, Eileen said:
“Memories that stand out for me include securing a conviction at court on an individual for multiple sexual assaults, and some very sad memories involving
dealing with accidental death and suicide. I do not remember there being any form of welfare support or Post Incident Managers in place in the late 90s, and I remember feeling humbled when a family member, recalling their ordeal of losing a loved one on a daytime talk show, spoke of the professionalism, sensitivity and support he had received from myself during the investigation.
“Amy’s Dad and I were over the moon and very proud parents, when she told us she wanted to become a police officer and join the MDP. My advice to Amy is to complete her portfolio as soon as possible and get involved in and experience the many different aspects that a career in the MDP has to offer. I would love for her to go for promotion but, it isn’t for everyone and there are lots of other wonderful opportunities in the MDP to explore.”
Amy — Police Constable, Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO)
Before joining the MDP earlier this year, Amy worked for a Home Office police force within the Police Enquiry Centre, answering both 999 emergency calls and 101 non-emergency calls. Up until then Amy had worked in various managerial roles within the retail sector.
“Now that I am older and have a better understanding of what it is my mum does for her job, I decided to join the MDP. The role of an MDP PC has very much changed since my mum first joined the Force, when firearms training was basic, and officers were not routinely armed. Training to be an Authorised Firearms Officer from the beginning of my police career was a major interest for me. I also knew the job could offer a career for life that would provide ample opportunities to explore different roles and areas of the country, as well as providing stability and being part of a much larger family network within the Force.
“I look back at my training to be an AFO in two halves, the first being the initial ten weeks at HQ (Wethersfield) and the second being firearms training at AWE Burghfield for the remaining eight weeks. I enjoyed both aspects for different reasons, but my favourite part was firearms. The course is intense and certainly has its ups, downs, stresses, and highlights, but overall, I would do it all again. The best part was how well the team worked together throughout and the close bonds that we made.
“My first week on station was nerve racking and exciting. Meeting a whole new team for the first time, finding my feet and then having the confidence to respond to any incidents that we came across, was a lot to take in. I have very quickly found my way though and I have a brilliant section Sergeant and station.
“Looking to the future, I have a number of avenues I am interested in. I would like to go for promotion, following in my mum’s footsteps of course. However, in the meantime, I will be looking to specialise and there are three specialisms that have taken my fancy. Firstly, from day one I have been very keen to join the dog section. Secondly, a Firearms Instructor role would be of interest to me, after having such a great experience with the instructors from my Initial Firearms Training Course. And lastly, I have always loved being on the water, so I think I would enjoy a posting with the Marine Unit.
“My advice to anyone wanting to join the MDP, in simple terms is, go for it! There are so many possibilities and areas within the Force to explore. It doesn’t matter if you want to specialise, go for promotion, or stay as a PC on patrol, there is a role for everyone. You can also move around the UK, which many other forces cannot offer.”
Visit www.mod.police.uk to find out more about a future career with the MDP.
MDP celebrates 50 years
50 years: delivering unique specialist policing
A brief history of the Ministry of Defence Police
Who are the MDP?
Special 50th anniversary pass out event for MOD Police new recruits