‘Like a meat market’ – police fitness test for new recruits attacked for being sexist

Female officers were nine times as likely to fail test as men, and were wolf-whistled at

A police fitness test has been labelled “unfit for purpose” because it discriminates against women and is geared towards overweight officers, a new study has found.

The research, led by Professor Craig Jackson, head of psychology at Birmingham City University, called for the obstacle course for new recruits to be scrapped – describing how female officers were wolf-whistled at by male colleagues and saying the test was like a “sexist meat market”.

Mr Jackson is presenting his findings to the British Science Festival in Newcastle.

The research found women taking part in the test were nearly nine times more likely to fail than males. Half the entrants were overweight, of which over 40 per cent passed the test.

“When I’ve seen this test being applied, it is a little bit like a very sexist meat market,” said Professor Jackson. “Lots of male officers gather round while the female recruits bounce and jiggle and run around, and they’re wolf-whistling and clapping – it’s quite a sexist environment.”

His findings follow an independent review commissioned by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, last year on police pay and recruitment recommended that officers should be disciplined if they fail fitness tests.

Led by the former rail regulator Tom Winsor, the review laid out sweeping reforms on physical and educational standards for police, and found that 52 per cent of male officers in the Metropolitan Police were overweight, with over a fifth obese. In response to the review, police endurance tests are being introduced this month, which forces have a year to implement. They involve a 15-metre shuttle run.

The gender-neutral timed obstacle course (Gentoc) referred to in the Birmingham City University study was developed by the former Royal Ulster Constabulary. It is designed to replicate some of the everyday physical demands that officers might face.  Participants have to crawl on their hands and knees, scale flights of stairs, walk along narrow beams, drag a dummy human being and run through slalom posts. Entrants have to complete the course in three minutes and 45 seconds. Over 90 per cent of men finished the course in time, while only 60 per cent of women completed it.

Mr Jackson called for the test to be ditched in favour of one that affords female officers “a little bit more  privacy and dignity.”  

His study has been criticised, however, as it analysed test results for 1,701 candidates in only one police force over five years to 2012. The constabulary has not been revealed. The College of Policing, which handles police training across the UK, said the Gentoc was not a national standard test.

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Merrett, head of the college’s national fitness working group, said the new annual fitness tests being rolled out were “compliant with equality legislation”. He added: “There is no obstacle course or upper strength testing as part of this annual fitness test. We will be ensuring that the fitness test does not discriminate against gender or other groups, and for the first 12 month the College of Policing will audit data on pass and failures to understand how groups are performing.”

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album