Hundreds fail new compulsory police fitness test

Police "beep" fitness test
Image caption Last year, the Police Federation voiced concerns about the testing of older officers, those with disabilities and women

Hundreds of police officers have failed a new compulsory fitness test, figures have shown.

Figures provided by 27 forces under the Freedom of Information Act revealed nearly 70% of the 363 officers who failed were women.

No punitive measures will be taken against those who have not passed, but from September, action could be taken against anyone failing three times.

Compulsory testing was introduced in England and Wales last year.

In total, nearly 3% of the 13,024 officers tested failed.

Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and North Wales were the only three forces with a 100% pass rate

'Room for improvement'

The constabularies with the highest percentage of failures were Suffolk (7%), Gwent (6%) and Wiltshire (5%).

Suffolk's Deputy Chief Constable Paul Marshall said officers were aware of what was required of them with regard to the national guidelines.

He said: "While there is clearly room for improvement, we still have 93% of our officers who have passed.

"If anyone is to fail the test then words of advice are given around improving their levels of fitness and programmes can be offered to support this process."

Not everyone is required to take the fitness test - only those involved in officer safety training, which includes baton use and arrest techniques.

The endurance test involves a series of shuttle runs between two lines 50ft (15m) apart at a steadily increasing pace controlled by means of a speaker emitting "bleep" signals in decreasing time periods.

Results 'not surprising'

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, had voiced concerns that it might "disproportionately impact on older officers, women and those with disabilities".

Federation spokesman Stephen Smith said the statistics were "not particularly surprising".

"There could be a number of underlying reasons why an officer might fail the test, such as disability, injury or occupational health reasons," he told BBC News.

"What we hope is that forces will be supportive of officers - possibly even with training schedules - and what we expect is that everyone will work together making every effort to ensure people pass."

Mr Smith added that officers who failed the fitness test three times would be subject to action under "unsatisfactory performance procedure", but he insisted that did not automatically mean dismissal from the force.

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 considering whether it was in the public interest to release the figures, while South Yorkshire was unable to provide the data.

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

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