UK MoD Armed Police Failed to Meet Training Standards

Armed MoD Officers armed with MP7s (MoD)

It has emerged that the UK’s Ministry of Defence Police have failed to meet firearms training standards. The specialist non-military police force is tasked with protecting sites of national importance such as the Royal Navy’s base at Faslane, Scotland – the home of Britain’s Trident nuclear arsenal.

The College of Policing has temporarily suspended its endorsement of the MoD Police’s firearms training of officers due to a perceived fall in training standard. The College conducts inspections of police force firearms training every four years and issues endorsement licenses to certify a force is training personnel properly.

The MoD Police are one of Britain’s most heavily armed police forces with approximately 90% of officers issued weapons. Officers are predominantly armed with the semi-automatic only HK MP7-SF, but MP5s, Diemaco C8s and L85A1 rifles and pistols are also issued.

Armed MoD Officers armed with Heckler & Koch MP7-SFs guard a Naval Base (MoD)

The College of Policing announced that they have suspended their endorsement of the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) firearms training arrangements “until MDP is in a position to demonstrate that it is again delivering training to the very high standards set by the College.”

One of the issues identified was one of the MDP’s training ranges built on an old Army base in Staffordshire not meeting currenty regulations. £140,000 worth of improvements to the range have now been approved.

Richard Bennett, the Head of the Uniformed Policing Faculty at the College of Policing told the Herald of Scotland that the College was “working hard with the MDP to support them so that we can endorse their training arrangements again as soon as possible.” He explained that “the suspension does not mean that the MDP must stop training its staff or that its staff cannot carry and use firearms to protect important sites and the public.”

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that they are working with the College to improve their training regime and meet the standards needed for endorsement. The MDP says it has completed the necessary steps to address the issues identified and the temporary suspension of the training endorsement does not impact on the security of the establishments it is assigned to protect.

Matthew Moss is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matthew is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.


  • Gregory

    What a surprise! Most police officers are unarmed in the UK. Drop the gun or I will hit you with my billy club.

    • Mystick

      “Stop! Or I will say ‘Stop!’ again!”

    • Indeed, there’s no need for the majority of UK police to be armed, they are trained to diffuse situations and rarely face anything a baton or a taser can’t solve.

      • Bill

        We constantly apply norms from the States to cultures that they may not apply to. From talking to Brit cops, they fight more often than US cops do, but face fewer lethal threats. We don’t get into as many fights, but face more guns and knives. They are also trained more intensely than us.

        • Exactly Bill, different ‘cultures’, different threats, different training.

        • Davis

          I’m actually shocked to find such a rational comment on the internet. On most websites, it would just be and endless series of slurs.

      • lee1001

        Unless there’s a terrorist attack, then you’re f’d

        • Actually with most of the recent UK terror attacks involving cars mounting the pavement and hitting pedestrians only an armed officer on at that exact position at that exact time would feasibly make a difference. But London (an the major cities) are lucky enough to have some excellent armed response units.

          • Mike

            Until the response units are using teleporters it wont make a bit of difference how quick they are.

          • kyphe

            No different with US cops, unless they have teleporters you are just as badly off. Given how densely populated the UK is I would be willing to bet the average Brit is closer to an armed officer than the average American.

        • iksnilol

          Yeah, but that applies in general.

      • The Forty ‘Twa

        Do you serve in the police Matthew? You seem to have a rather rosey view of things which doesn’t really seem to tally with my experience of policing here over the years.

        I have to face people carrying knives on a daily basis, something which we are NOT trained and equipped to deal with. We shouldn’t be having to deal with that just armed with a metal stick and some silly string. Taser isn’t widely issued where I work but the doctrine is not to deploy it without lethal cover anyway. I’ve seen to fail more often than I have seen it work so my faith in tackling somebody armed with a knife with a Taser is somewhat lacking.

        People think we get a lot of training. We don’t. Our training when faced with a knife is basically to tactically withdraw and call for firearms (i.e. run away). Not only can I not adequately protect myself but I can’t protect the public as they would expect the police to do when they are on scene.

        The bosses in the control room will inevitably flap and decide not to deploy one of the handful of ARVs covering three local authority areas (an area about the size of North Yorkshire) because they are under pressure to keep the number of ARV deployments low to placate politicians meaning I’m having to deal with a threat that my bosses tell me I am not trained and equipped to deal with.

        This much vaunted “de-escalation training” was something of a footnote in my police training and I got far more of it when training as an AFO than your average cop does. There really isn’t as much training on it as people seem to think there is and by all accounts it doesn’t work on people who are drunk, high or have mental health issues who account for a huge amount of the calls that I end up having to attend.

        • No I don’t, I know some serving officers but I wouldn’t presume to speak for them. I know how stretched and underfunded the police are. They’re expected to do too much, fulfil roles social workers should be doing etc. I appreciate not wanting to face danger with just a baton, I’m not glorifying that but just trying to highlight the cultural difference. Anyway, good comment, thanks for furthering the discussion with some inside perspective!

      • blood283

        Typical out of date thinking Mathew. I’m sure the two female Constables who were shot at, and then killed by a hand grenade in the UK not to long ago would disagree with your assessment. You don’t carry a firearm daily for the wished upon situation, you carry it for the worst case scenario, a thing that is becoming more common place in the UK every year, as it is world wide. British Constables deserve the right, and the chance to go home to their loved ones at the end of shift just like the rest of Police almost world wide. Tradition is a nice thing if you can afford it, but I for one am tired of attending Police funerals. The bottom line, you can’t legislate crazy, or extremism, and no amount of “diffusing” will fix that. Welcome to the 21st century, even if it has to be by kicking and screaming.

  • TheUnspoken

    That riser, it’s huge! But I guess I have usually seen them with low profile or flip up sights, not diopters. I guess that keeps a common sight picture between mp7 and mp5.

    • Definite chin weld territory

    • A.WChuck

      I was under the impression they are taught to use a head up shooting style. I could be wrong…

    • Rob

      I think it’s more to do with firing with a respirator on. Which they do train to do.

  • Kaban

    A Mistubishi? But…but why?

    • QuadGMoto

      Because it’s bigger than their normal shoebox on wheels?

      • Kaban

        Never compared Gen4 Pajero with Land Rovers directly, but I doubt there is so much difference in size.

        Now, price and reliability are another matter, but a nation that grinned and beared with one of worst bullpups in history should not drop their SUV for that reason! 🙂

        • QuadGMoto

          I have to admit that I forgot about the Land Rover. In that context going with a Mitsubishi does seem odd.

          I was thinking more of those tiny little things they call police cars; the ones that two people can pick up and move anywhere they like.

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            The force I serve in stopped buying from Land Rover years ago due to the reliability.

            I was so glad to see the back of our defenders (I have one before the haters come out!). Great when you want to go off road but horrendous for day to day driving. Noisy, cramped, slow, handle terribly, prone to rust and not particularly reliable.

        • kyphe

          If the British army got fed up with land rovers attitude of complacency then the police would have no qualms dumping them.

  • john huscio

    In a country where next to no one shoots, i cant say im surprised.

    • forrest1985

      Different culture, those like me that enjoy it are considered “odd” over here

      • Mr Mxyzptlk

        I kind of agree that UK shooters are sometimes viewed as “odd”, but in my experience it is never in a fearful or aggressive way, it is just that it isn’t the norm. I have never met anybody in the UK that is really “anti-gun” like you get in America, they are just more of a non issue over here.

        I am far more armed than the average American, but nobody ever views me as a nut, or worries that I will go on a rampage. I imagine that this is mainly due to the fact that guns are not legal to own for self defence in the UK (with the exception of NI) so they are generally seen more as objects of sport, hunting, or historic curiosity.

        • Likvid

          Czech shooters are also generally viewed as odd, especially if they carry. But cz is somewhat anti-gun country in general, although those super-antigun people like in US are, fortunately, not very common.

          Btw my friend is meeting relatively often with the people from UK in his work and according to his experience, when they find out about his gun (happens when he is talking about going to the range etc.) – they usually cannot believe this is legal. He even heard questions like “are you some kind of mafia” etc. (but hey, people in UK rutinely ask Czechs about war and are confused when we tell them, that last war on Czech soil was WWII).

          Anyway, he said they often strike him as completely brainwashed by goverment propaganda in terms of guns or knives.
          Which definitely goes with my own experience, when some british tourists (judged by accent) witnessed me opening box with pocket knife (Leatherman) in front of post office and I swear they genuinely looked horrified and intimidated by that little folder.

  • Rey

    So is this more of a training facility failure to meet standards?

  • Jay Ross

    When the government pays for your ammo why wouldn’t you be training like all the time? That would be the best gig ever.

    • MeaCulpa

      Having had the government paying for my ammunition I can, with some authority, say that even that gets old.

      • Bill

        It’s all fun and games until it’s mandated.

        As dude in charge of training I had the run of the ranges and all the ammo I could get basic trainees to carry, and next to no time, or energy, to shoot just for the heck of it.

    • Andrew

      I’ve been told by British Soldiers that they are not given many opportunities to shoot, due to paranoia and rules. Ammo accountability is huge. Not sure if that applies to cops.

      • Jay Ross

        Good point. Probably similar if they’re anything like Australian police. There’s been a few times this site reported on Australian police freaking out over losing a few 9mm rounds and them releasing statements to the public about it.

  • Spike

    ” Officers are predominantly armed with the semi-automatic only HK MP7-SF, but MP5s, Diemaco C8s and L85A1 rifles and pistols are also issued”
    I seriously doubt anyone is being issued L85 A1’s by the MoD.

    • Rare now, but has occurred in the past. Photographic evidence is out there.

      • Spike

        Think I need to rephrase for you…
        I seriously doubt anyone (even lowly plod) has been issued an A1 in over a decade (A2’s on the other hand)….

  • One Spartan

    It’s what happens when you rob a nation of it’s firearms culture–a generation of those without guns as a party of daily life. Not growing up, shooting grandpa’s .22LR at bottles and cans and developing the marksmanship skill foundation at an early age.

    • Graham2

      There are a plenty of UK shooters you know, but go on tell us all about it!

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      To be fair even at the current “low” standard the MDP still have better training than the majority of regular officers in US police forces receive. The difference with the British police is that the armed police are specialist officers so they go through a more rigorous selection and training process. There is also the economical point of view, whereby in the US forces can’t afford to train their armed officers to the degree that the UK does as in the UK a far smaller percentage of the force is armed.

      Something to bear in mind though, is that the MDP training is being deemed sub standard compared to the training that armed officers in other forces are receiving. Armed MDP officers perform roles more akin to regular policing and security duties for the most part, as opposed to other forces where armed officers are required to perform armed response and “SWAT” style roles. The MDP doesn’t even have to meet these standards as they are not a Home Office police force, they voluntarily submit to inspection. They could do nothing and there would be no problem, but they are making the suggested changes despite the fact that they are arguably overkill for the role that MDP officers are generally employed in.

  • Arthur

    Hey a 3rd world, camon, go to UK and EU. They are weak and cant do anything, cant protect themseves and their own people, and people cant protect themseves.

  • Mr. Katt

    How comforting ( NOT ) . . . these coppers are wandering the UK with select fire weapons and the gub’mt there is worried about civilians being ‘qualified’ to own guns ??????

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      Basically glorified security guards. They do very little real policing.

    • just to note they aren’t select fire.

  • Mike

    These folks are all window dressings that rush to scene of an attack after it is long over, count the bodies, write the reports and go home.

  • Geoff

    Who needs to train with evil guns when they are experts in multicultural sensitivity training.
    Just let the invaders rape your girls and they’ll be nice. No need to fire a single shot if you just hand over your country.

    • Druid D

      Geoff, have you even been over the other side of the Atlantic??
      You seem mighty keen on telling the British your opinion on what they appear to be doing to their country, (which is ill informed hyperbole by the way.)

  • retfed

    The article says they failed the standards, but it doesn’t say what the standards are.
    I could design a course that no one could pass, or a course that anyone could pass. And so could you.
    I’ll refrain from dumping on the UK or their police till I see some facts.

  • LazyReader

    When your police anthem is Yakety Sax I’m not surprised.

  • Thomas Higgins

    Not to be too nitpicky, but the SA80 A1 (or L85 A1) is not in service anywhere in Britain now. Because it was utterly garbage to the extent that even the government finally took notice. The SA80 A2 (or L85 A2) its long overdue replacement, is, however, in service.