WCoSP Apprentice visit to MPSSTC

Posted: 23rd January 2020


On Thursday the 16th of January, a group of Apprentices from the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals (WCoSP) went to visit the Metropolitan Police Services Special Training Centre (MPSSTC).

The visit was made possible by Freeman Chief Superintendent Rob Atkin MBE and arranged by Honorary Court Assistant AMG Chair Andrew Knights. We are most grateful to the Chief Superintendent and the rest of his team for making this visit possible. The party consisted of Apprentices Faith Fetuga, Ben Kitchener, Nicolas Markantonis, Charles Morton, Isobel Horsfall, Eva Thomas, James Fox and Freeman David Knights.

On arrival at the training centre, we met one of the firearms instructors - PC Andy Hopton - based at the training centre in Gravesend. PC Hopton shared some of his experiences he had had during his 19 years of service, after which he then showed us a simulation exercise that new police officers undergo when on the firearm training course. This simulation exercise involves two people watching a situation that the police have been called to respond to as it develops, whilst they hold a infrared pistol. Thus, placing them in the position of a firearm’s officer. The people undergoing the simulation exercise have to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. After each pair had gone, PC Hopton scrutinised their decisions - playing the role of judge, jury and lawyer. Listening to the questions raised by PC Hopton and the other apprentices, whilst being made aware of how we make decisions as individuals, was an incredible insight and something that absolutely fascinated myself.

At 14:00 hrs we switched instructors, and spent the rest of the day with PC Hayley Cripps a public order instructor with over 15 years of service. She took us through the various courses the training centre provides police officers, and some of the structure of the London Met and wider Police Services across the nation. This was a great time for apprentices to ask as many questions as they could dream up about the police service and the training they provide.

After the session in the classroom - and a first class dinner - Hayley took us around the mock village that was constructed at the training centre in 2003. Walking the through village and remembering every few minutes that it was all man-made and a facade was mind blowing to say the least. Firstly, we stopped off to see two PCs take us through rapid entry, and tools and tactics for gaining access to buildings through the means of knocking down doors.

Watching how quiet they could be whilst taking out somebody’s front door was impressive and also slightly worrying, as they managed to knock each door down in a total of three whole seconds.

We were then taken to watch police officers learning shield tactics, and how to protect themselves against petrol bombs and various other objects crowds may throw their way. This was a great experience, and we watched the police charge through fires - and at petrol bombs - in awe. After which, we had the opportunity to take part in the start of an incident, acting as protestors in a crowd, marching down the street. We were kept under the supervision of Hayley throughout the incident. After protesting wholeheartedly to “end the cuts” we made our way to an “unlicensed music event”. When we were then taken to the top of a building to watch the rest of the incident take place. Watching from above, Hayley explained the tactics being used to control the riots - with protestors throwing bricks and petrol bombs from every direction - and the various problems the trainees were tackling as they brought the crowd under control.

Overall, the event was a marvellous experience and a great insight into British police tactics. Personally, I found the experience inspiring and incredibly reassuring as to how highly skilled our police service really is compared to police forces across the rest of the world.

Ben Kitchener
Apprentice