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Police may face sack over fitness

Police officers who repeatedly fail a basic fitness test could be sacked for not being fit enough to do the job, a report has said.

The most radical review of police pay and conditions for more than 30 years found three-quarters of men in Britain's biggest force were overweight or obese, compared with two-thirds of men in the general population.

It called for annual fitness tests to be brought in, with those who repeatedly fail at risk of being docked almost £3,000 and, in the most extreme cases, sacked for unsatisfactory performance.

Tom Winsor, who led the 18-month review, said fitness, qualifications, skills and experience on the frontline should all be at the heart of the police pay system in future.

"Running after a suspect, or apprehending a violent or disturbed person, requires physical fitness and strength," he said. "All officers need to be physically fit enough to do their jobs."

Even chief constables should face the tests, he said, pointing to how senior officers led their officers "in confronting and tackling dangerous rioters" during the violence and looting in English cities last summer.

The fitness tests would see officers having to pass four 15 metre shuttle runs at level five of the so-called bleep test by September next year. But this would be made harder by 2018, with officers facing tasks such as climbing over walls and pulling bodies as tests akin to those currently used by police in Northern Ireland should be brought in, he said.

"I think the public will be surprised that after passing a fitness test at the point of entry, except in special units like firearms, physical fitness is not tested again in a 30, 35-year career," Mr Windsor said.

Meanwhile, the review, ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May, said the current pay system, which was based on a 1920s design of rewarding years of service, should be overhauled and replaced with one that recognised hard work and merit instead.

Mr Winsor also signalled the end of a job for life as he called for the ban on chief constables making officers redundant to be lifted in the face of budget cuts. A new educational requirement should also be brought in, with applicants needing the equivalent of three A-levels at grades A to C.


From Belfast Telegraph