MORE than 1,800 police fitness tests were failed in the space of a year. Results released by the College of Policing show that the basic fitness test was passed 92,093 times between September 2014 and August 2015 – 98% of the total 93,956 times it was taken.
Concerns were raised by the Police Federation that several thousand officers had not been tested, and that some forces had recorded significantly more tests than they have officers.
The College of Policing collated figures that showed a lower proportion of female officers than their male counterparts made the grade.
Of the 23,154 times that a woman took the test, 22,095 or 95.4% were passed; while for the 67,376 times a male officer took part, 66,619 were passed – or 98.9%.
Two forces of the 43 in England and Wales were unable to provide a breakdown of results by gender, but figures from the rest showed that 757 tests were failed by men, 1.1% of the total taken by male officers, and 1,059 by women, 4.6% of the total.
National lead for 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 specialised training and mentoring programmes.
“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, that became compulsory in 2014, requires officers to run 525 metres in three minutes 40 seconds or less.
Those who fail are allowed “at least two retakes”, according to College of Policing guidance – and officers who fail repeatedly can face disciplinary action.
Specialist officers including those in firearms, diving, and air support teams have to undergo more rigorous training.
Andy Ward, deputy general secretary for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the figures show several thousand officers have not been tested in the past year.
He said: “The expectation is that officers who are routinely deployed in public-contact roles will undergo annual Personal Safety Training and therefore take the test.
“It is apparent that several forces have faced a logistical challenge in testing their officers, which has not been helped by shrinking police estates and limited resources to administer the tests as a consequence of cuts to policing budgets since 2010.”
He also questioned the quality of the data, because some forces recorded significantly more tests than there are officers. For example North Yorkshire recorded 2,182 tests as having taken place, whereas the number of officers in the force in September 2015 was 1,347.
Mr Ward added: “In some forces the figures indicate that the number of officers tested significantly exceeded the number of police officers within the force. There remains much work to be done within the service to ensure that full, accurate and timely data is made available.”