Hundreds fail police fitness tests

Andover Advertiser: Many police officers have failed the new fitness test Many police officers have failed the new fitness test

Hundreds of police officers have failed fitness tests since they became compulsory, figures have shown.

More than one in 50 of the candidates who have undergone testing since the autumn have failed to make the grade, and two-thirds of those who did not pass were women.

Compulsory fitness testing was introduced last September, and for the first year officers who fail will not face any punitive measures.

From September this year, those who fail three times will face disciplinary action.

Figures obtained from 27 forces in England and Wales after a freedom of information request by the Press Association showed that of 13,024 officers who have been tested since September, 353 failed - a proportion of 2.7%.

Of those, 236 were women, 67% of the total number of officers who failed to pass.

The three forces where the highest percentage of officers failed were Suffolk (7%), Gwent (6%) and Wiltshire (4.7%).

The three with the lowest were Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, and North Wales, where all officers passed.

Compulsory fitness testing was brought in after recommendations by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

He said all officers should be made to take a "bleep" test annually - where participants have to complete a 15-metre shuttle run in shorter and shorter periods, reaching level 5.4 - four shuttles at level 5.

Winsor also recommended that from 2018 the tests should be made harder, using challenges based on the type of things an officer might face on duty, but this is being considered by the College of Policing in case it negatively impacts on women.

Claims were made recently that one of these types of fitness tests discriminated against women, for example by including narrow slaloms that are more difficult with wider hips.

Professor Craig Jackson, head of psychology at Birmingham City University, said the gender-neutral timed obstacle course, used to mimic some of the challenges faced by police officers, was "not fit for purpose".

He said: "Police forces have a number of officers labelled fit when they're unfit, and they're screening out officers who are fit - they just happen to be female.''

Twenty-seven forces provided figures for how many officers had taken fitness tests since September and how many failed, with a breakdown by gender.

Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Northumbria, Staffordshire and Warwickshire have not yet started testing and so could not provide figures.

Merseyside said it was still considering whether it was in the public interest to release the figures, and South Yorkshire was unable to provide the data.

Cumbria, West Midlands, Thames Valley, Nottinghamshire, Metropolitan Police, Humberside and Greater Manchester failed to respond to the request.

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