Police fitness tests may not be 'fit for purpose'
PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 August 2019
Physical exams taken by police could be overhauled and made more appropriate for an "older and more diverse" force, it has emerged.
Fitness tests have been taken 4,121 times in Suffolk since 2014, with 47 men and 68 women failing theirs.
The failures accounted for 2.7% of all fitness tests logged by the force in this time frame.
Now, the Suffolk Police Federation has revealed new research is being carried out to find out if the way police are assessed physically is appropriate for a modern force.
The organisation's chairman, Darren Harris, said: "The College of Policing (CoP) has commissioned some research to form an evidence base to underpin fitness testing within the service.
"We await this research and its recommendations so that federations and police chiefs can work with the CoP to formulate a fitness test that is 'fit for purpose'.
"The science behind fitness testing has moved on since the current test was introduced and so we need to move with the times and have a test that is suitable for the workforce which is getting older and more diverse."
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What do you have to do to pass a police fitness test?
To pass the standard fitness test, officers and recruits have to run a series of 15-metre shuttle runs in progressively faster times, known as the bleep test.
The passing standard is 5:4 - four shuttle runs at level five - which is a total of 525m running in about 3:30.
Some firearms officers are tested to a level of 10:5 - running a total of 1.2km in 7:30.
Mr Harris added: "I would argue that with the current pressures on policing and officers there is not the time to focus on fitness and wellbeing and this has an impact on officers passing the fitness test.
"The current figures show a 2.7% failure rate of Suffolk officers for the fitness test.
"I do not think that this is exceptional when considering the work force that we have."
The force's deputy chief constable, Rachel Kearton, said: "Suffolk Constabulary has a dedicated team of personal safety trainers who are responsible for carrying out comprehensive assessments of the overall fitness of our officers and staff.
"We carefully monitor those who do not pass these tests and offer support and guidance where necessary to help improve their levels of fitness."