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Mobile Surveillance Officers

Contract Type
Defence & Security
competitiveUpon completion of training £36711 (Includes shift pay)
Expiry Date
A diverse team is vital to our work at MI5, protecting the community against threats to national security from terrorism to espionage, especially in our Mobile Surveillance teams.

Job Description

Surveillance is one of the Security Service’s key investigative resources.  Mobile Surveillance Officers follow subjects who have been identified by Intelligence Officers as potential threats to national security.  It’s all about observing people and places, either by foot or by vehicle and to do that it is vital that you blend in to your environment.

The Skills

Ability to blend in: The UK has a highly diverse population so it’s vital that we too have a diverse team who can operate in a wide range of environments without attracting attention.  That’s why we’re particularly keen to recruit women and people from ethnic backgrounds, to ensure we have balanced Surveillance teams that reflect the society we protect.  All applications, however, will be considered on merit.

Being able to blend into the background and remain covert is of paramount importance in our investigations.  Any distinguishing features such as tattoos on your face, neck or forearms would make you more recognisable to someone who is under surveillance and would therefore make you unsuitable for this role.  Likewise, if you are male you will need to be 6’1” (1.86m) or under.  Females must be 5’8” (1.72m) or under.

Observation: You’ll need to be highly observant – and be able to accurately remember the details of everything you’ve seen and heard.  You’ll also need to have good vision in both eyes, either naturally or corrected with glasses or contact lenses, including full colour and peripheral vision.  Good hearing is also essential.  Your eyesight and hearing will be tested during the recruitment process.

Driving: A competent and careful driver, you’ll have held a full UK manual driving licence for the last three years and you’ll have no more than three points on your licence.  You’ll need to drive regularly and be confident on all sorts of roads (urban, rural and motorway) at all times of the day and night.  The training course you’ll undertake when you join us will really hone your skills in these and other areas.

Map reading: You should be able to easily navigate yourself between two different points using an ‘A-Z’ or Philip’s Navigator Britain style road map.  Map reading potential will be tested during the recruitment process and developed on the intensive training course that all successful candidates will undertake on joining the Service.

Patience: You’ll need to be able to remain completely alert for long spells of inactivity and then be able to step up several gears when it all starts happening.

Fitness: You can be on the move all day, often following people who are under surveillance on foot, so you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to allow you to do this.  You should be comfortable both walking and sitting for substantial periods of time and you’ll need good manual dexterity in both hands to operate surveillance equipment.

Thinking on your feet: Things can happen fast in this role.  You’ll need to be able to make sound judgements on the spur of the moment.

Multi-tasking: You need to be able to do several things at once – watch, plan ahead, drive, communicate to your team – and make decisions whilst you’re doing so.

People skills: Being able to get on with all types of people is really important, as are the personal qualities and life experience you will bring.  You’ll need to be able to fit in anywhere and talk to anyone.

Team work: You’ll need to be able to work collaboratively with a variety of people, including other Mobile Surveillance Officers and staff across the Security Service and our partner organisations.

IT Skills: You’ll be required to use a range of communication equipment and you will also need to be confident in using IT systems.


Much of the work is in Greater London.  The role is based at our headquarters, Thames House.  You’ll need to live or be prepared to relocate to within a commutable distance of the capital and within a 70-mile radius of the office.

The nature of the work, however, also involves extensive travel around the UK and you may need to spend time away from home, sometimes at short notice.  On occasions you may spend as many as seven nights away.

You should consider the financial implications and practicalities of relocating to Greater London prior to submitting an application.  Please note, we do not cover relocation costs.

Shift patterns

You’ll need to be flexible.  Working hours are organised on a five week shift pattern, which includes working two weekends in five.  Some people find that working shifts and having their days off during the week can be a real benefit.


We take training very seriously.  It ensures our people remain safe at all times and allows us to equip our staff to collect the intelligence we need.

When you join you’ll undertake a challenging, non-residential training course.  This will give you the confidence and skills you need to perform your new role in a safe and secure manner – and you will need to pass the course to take on the job.  The surveillance course consists of briefings, intensive training and assessments and continual feedback.  You’ll also learn to drive to the police advanced standard.

Once you’ve successfully completed the course, you will receive additional training for the next 2-3 years and then may choose to specialise in a particular area of surveillance.

Career Development

Surveillance is a specialist role and we are looking to recruit Mobile Surveillance Officers who will be able to commit five years to the role.  Promotion is on merit and where opportunities allow.

Some people become Team Leaders and direct others during surveillance operations.  Others become planning officers or specialise in particular areas of surveillance including photography and the technical aspects of the role.