Podgy police officers face wrath over fitness test failures

Blobby bobbies in Lancashire could face the boot after a probe revealed dozens can't even pass a basic police fitness test.

Monday, 28th March 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 11:17 pm
Police on the beat ... would you pass a police fitness test?

Pen pushing and panda cars have been blamed for the fact some Lancashire Police officers struggled to meet minimum requirements to do their job.

It comes after a Freedom of Information request revealed 83 officers in the region failed the new exam.

It means the force has one of the best pass rates in the country but the figures have sparked concern that some officers are not up to the job.

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Inspectors and sergeants are among those literally not fit enough to police, having failed the test despite boasts from top brass about how easy it is.

The exam involves a ‘bleep test’ where officers walk and slowly jog for less than four minutes in 15 metre bursts, along with light weight lifting.

To pass the basic test officers have to reach level 5:4 ‐ which is approximately three and a half minutes ‐ although there are higher standards for specialist coppers.

“If a normal person failed the test it would be embarrassing, never mind a policeman ‐ that’s a joke,” said a police source, who took and passed the exam themselves.

“When you think how much time police spend behind a desk or inside a car, it’s little surprise they are so unfit.

“But how are officers expected to catch a mugger if they can’t even run?”

Police.uk, the official Government police site, say the test is designed to simulate day‐to‐day police activities such as foot chases and apprehending suspects.

The official site also boasts that the new test is “considerably easier than it once was” and “most people with a basic level of fitness should be able to pass it with very little training.”

The new tests were implemented last April, making it a legal requirement that all of the force’s 2,919 officers take it.

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information act show that Lancashire Police is one of the best forces in the country at making its staff take the exam.

Since last April, at least 3,658 tests have been carried out although it isn’t known if all its officers have completed it.

A force spokesman said: “The results recognise Lancashire Police’s commitment to testing our officers.

“The current figures show a failure rate of two per cent, one of the best in the country.

“We are confident that the fitness levels for Lancashire officers are high and that the vast majority will pass the tests and continue to do so.”

But the figures show 67 constables, six sergeants and an inspector have failed the test.

The majority of those were for specialist positions, such as armed response or dog handler roles, where the pass mark is much higher.

However, 30 of the fails were just for the standard test, including the inspector.

Many of those who failed would need to walk the beat for their job.

John Ponter, a former high‐ranking Yorkshire police officer, said: “Policeman used to walk the beat which would keep them naturally fit.

“But then panda cars were introduced and officers started doing more paperwork.

“Police fitness needs to be monitored, it is a physical job and they need to be fit to do that physical job.”

Officers have three attempts at passing the test. If they fail it a third time then the force can open up disciplinary actions.

This could include suspension or the sack.

One unspecified officer has failed it three times, while nine others have two fails against their name.

The test came to prominence after super‐sized sergeant Andy Sharp made headlines after he was snapped on duty in London.

Colleagues defended the rotund officer ‐ with some saying the portly PC wasn’t even the fattest on the force.

Yet despite calls to keep more of an eye of officer’s waistlines, several forces ‐ including the City of London and Northamptonshire Police ‐ are yet to implement testing.

Some forces, including Bedfordshire Police, refused to disclose results.