Unfit for duty? Police fail nearly 2,000 fitness tests

Police patrol near the London Eye © Peter Nicholls
Police officers across England and Wales failed the annual police fitness test more than 1,800 times across a 12-month period, new figures have shown. 

The figures, released by the College of Policing, indicate that the overall pass rate for the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales was 98 percent from September 2014 to August 2015. 

The results indicate that female officers fare slightly worse on the test – which became compulsory in 2014 – than their male counterparts. 

The head of national fitness testing, assistant chief constable Jo Shiner, said: "These results show that the vast majority of officers tested were fit and meet the standard required of them to protect the public. 

"We know from previous years that slightly fewer female officers are passing and the College of Policing guidance on fitness tests has been carefully designed to support officers who are in this position, including advice on positive action measures such as specialized training and mentoring programs. 

"The public want their officers to be fit and able to protect them in the face of danger and these results show they are able to do just that." 

The basic fitness test requires police to complete a so-called “bleep test.” This involves running back and forth along a 15-meter track, arriving at each end in time with a series of audio bleeps. The total distance covered is 525 meters, and it must be run in under three minutes and 40 seconds. Officers who work in specialized positions, including firearms, diving or dog handlers have to undergo more rigorous testing. 

Officers in the City of London had the highest pass rate, with all 120 tests taken resulting in a pass.

Meanwhile, at 95 percent, South Wales had the lowest pass rate in the country. 

Officers who fail the annual test for the first time are given at least two additional opportunities to retake it, according to College of Policing guidelines. Officers who fail repeatedly may face disciplinary action. 

The college of policing has said that it was unaware of officers being fired for failing the test.