Of all the recommendations made by Tom Winsor in his review of police pay and recruitment this week, it was not the introduction of an academic qualification, nor the direct entry of senior officers, nor even a pay cut for new recruits that drew most wrath. No, it was the proposal that all officers should have to take an annual fitness test, with the threat of three failures and you're out.
Anyone fortunate enough to encounter a police officer, or two, actually on the beat will be aware that some of them look more like a "before" advert for WeightWatchers than an "after" one – to the point where you wonder whether they could even think of giving chase, should the need arise. Bear in mind, too, that those in patrol cars or behind desks are unlikely to be much healthier. Indeed, the Winsor review found that more than half of male officers were overweight.
So an annual fitness test seems reasonable enough. Not, however, to the Police Federation, which identified any number of reasons why such checks would be impracticable, unfair and generally undesirable. But no one is proposing that police be required to train to Olympic standards, just that they should be physically up to the job. It's not the proposed checks that are worrying, but the fact that so many officers need them.
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