MI5 is advertising for a new battalion of spies who, far from being primed for James Bond-style action, need to be ready for long spells of inactivity and prove they are comfortable “sitting for substantial periods of time”.

The call for £31,000-a-year mobile surveillance officers, is one of the latest recruitment drives by the domestic secret service, which “protects the community against threats to national security from terrorism to espionage”.

It looks likely to appeal to anyone who loves the inside of their car and can handle hours of sitting around doing nothing while remaining “able to step up several gears when it all starts happening”.

Inevitably, given the secrecy of the role, the advert doesn’t make clear what “happening” might mean, but explains: “Mobile surveillance officers follow subjects who’ve been identified by intelligence officers as potential threats to national security. It’s all about observing people and places, either on foot or by vehicle, and to do that it is vital that you blend in to your environment.

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