Hundreds of police officers fail fitness test

Police "bleep" fitness test
Image caption The highest rate of failure was in Suffolk

Hundreds of police officers in England and Wales failed a fitness test due to become mandatory later this year.

Interim results given to the College of Policing from 38 forces show that out of 29,285 tests taken, 807 were failed.

The college said the 807 could include officers who failed more than once. Men failed 237 tests and women failed 570.

The national police lead for fitness testing, Assistant Chief Constable Rob Price, said the results showed the vast majority of officers tested were fit.

'Bleep test'

The new fitness testing, which will become compulsory in September, was brought in after recommendations made by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

The fitness test involves officers reaching a certain level during a 15-metre "bleep test". The test is so called because it requires officers to carry out shuttle runs between two markers at a speed which gradually gets faster, and is dictated by a bleep.

Officers will be expected to pass the bleep test on an annual basis.

Police in Scotland are currently required to pass three tests within two years of becoming an officer. Those failing to meet the necessary standard are given one further attempt to pass within six weeks.

There is no assessment for serving officers in the Police Service of Northern Ireland although it says it hopes testing will be introduced in the near future.

Humberside and Northumbria Police were the only two forces that boasted a 100% pass rate for both male and female officers.

The worst failure rates were seen in police forces in Suffolk (7%), West Mercia and Warwickshire (5.6%), and Gwent (5.5%).

The failure rate in the West Midlands stands at 5.8% but its police force uses the Chester Step Test to assess officers, a method commonly used to measure fitness in the UK Fire Service, instead of the bleep test and is not included in the figures.

Bleep test

A multi-stage fitness test in which you must do shuttle runs in time with the bleeps until the bleeps get too quick for you

•The shuttle runs are done in time to bleep sounds on a pre-recorded audio device

•The time between the recorded bleeps decreases every minute as the level goes up

•The test usually consists of several levels: the higher the level, the quicker the speed

Data is still not available for the Metropolitan Police, the country's largest force, or for forces in Lancashire, Gloucestershire and Cumbria.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Price of Kent Police said: "The results to date are encouraging and show the vast majority of officers tested are fit."

The current guidelines expect officers to reach a score of 5.4 on the bleep test (four shuttles each within approximately 6.9 seconds), while for some kinds of specialist officers the standards are higher.

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