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PSNI axes section of contentious fitness test deemed unfair to women

By Deborah McAleese

Published 26/09/2015

Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Caitriona Ruane
Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Caitriona Ruane

Female police recruits have welcomed further radical changes to the PSNI fitness test to address concerns over the high failure rate of women applicants.

A controversial section of the test, which simulates a struggle, has been scrapped after complaints that the test, known as the push pull, was unfair to women.

"I am glad that men and women will now be tested on an equal footing. Before I applied I knew there was a lot of controversy over the physical test so I am glad that it has been addressed," said one female recruit.

Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Caitriona Ruane said the number of women failing the recruitment process due to this test was disproportional to men and "hampering the process of encouraging more women to take up a career in policing".

This is the second radical change to the fitness testing of female recruits this year.

In May, just weeks after a senior officer claimed that women in Northern Ireland were not fit enough to pass the physical for potential recruits, the organisation changed its one-strike policy.

Candidates, both male and female, who fail the gruelling test are now given a second chance.

The shifts in policy come amid serious concern over the low success rate for female applicants to the PSNI. A recruitment campaign launched in 2013 saw just 67 women securing one of the 353 posts.

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