Fitness test plan should be introduced for all police, says review

Widest-ranging review into police pay and conditions for 30 years recommends annual fitness test for officers

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The Independent Online

A wide-ranging review into police pay and conditions has suggested that all officers should be made to take an annual fitness test.

The review, which is the biggest for 30 years, has been undertaken by former rail regulator Tom Winsor, and recommends that officers who fail the test three times should be subject to disciplinary procedures, and possibly a pay cut of up to £2,922 a year.

The recommendations, should they be adopted, would also put an end to the idea that a job in the police service is a job for life.

Winsor suggests that Chief Constables should be able to make any officer redundant as part of budget cuts.

Mr Winsor said: “I think the public will be surprised that after passing a fitness test at the point of entry, except in special units like firearms, physical fitness is not tested again in a 30, 35-year career.”

Winsor has recommended that an initial yearly test, which requires officers to reach 5:4 on a bleep test – a standard measure of fitness, should be in place by September next year.

This test would be equivalent to running at an average speed of 8.8kph (5.5mph) for three and a half seconds.

A tougher test could be introduced by 2018. This would be run along similar lines to one currently used in Northern Ireland, and is designed to reflect the realities of police situations.

It includes climbing over walls and the dragging of bodies.

Mr Winsor predicted that many officers would welcome the proposals, saying they would see it "as a necessary protection for themselves and the public".

The report produced statistics which suggest over half of Metropolitan Police officers are overweight (52%), a fifth are obese (22%) and one in 100 is morbidly obese. 

The statistics also showed that 2% of female Met officers are morbidly obese, 16% are obese and a third (32%) are overweight.

Winsor also recommends that the starting salary for police constables should be cut from £23,000 to 19,000 for someone with A-levels who hasn’t got any police experience or qualifications.

And new educational requirements should also be brought in, with applicants needing three A-levels at A to C or equivalent qualifications, NVQ level three.

The new requirements come after the West Midlands force had to whittle down ‘several hundred thousand’ applications for just 70 jobs, while South Yorkshire police had to introduce a system where only the first 500 applicants would be considered.

The report also recommends raising the pension age for police to 60, and a graduate entry scheme for 80 of the "brightest and best" - joining the force at inspector rank.

Winsor also suggests reducing overtime pay to diplomatic and royal protection officers, some of whom earn up to £100,000 a year.