Outside of the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley Police has the largest protection commitment in the UK.
Protection duties are demand-led - there is no choice but to respond when required. Protection Group is responsible for providing armed protection at four permanent sites, either on a regular or ad hoc basis. The individuals that receive protection include members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet. The department also provides security to visiting Royalty and VIPs in support of the Metropolitan Police Personal Protection Officers.
Protection Group sits within the Operational Command Unit of Tactical Support. All Protection Group constables and sergeants are required to successfully complete an initial firearms course when they join the department, which is eight weeks long.
As authorised firearms officers, Protection Group officers are required to pass annual fitness and health checks. They are subsequently required to undertake a week-long Counter Terrorist Search Course which usually falls within their first year in the department. Regular training is then provided for officers to build on their skills and form part of the team which numbers approximately 100 well-trained and professional officers.
Staff can then be deployed anywhere in the Force in a variety of roles, such as searches, to assist the Major Crime department, or crewing the Armed Support Vehicle and Armed Response Vehicles. The department also employs security staff who assist in the operational running of some static sites.