February 18th, 2010

Worrying times

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

But I’m not sure for whom.

It was so long ago when I joined the job that I can’t actually recall the whole process. I remember visiting HQ for an interview, waiting outside for 15 minutes then going back in to be told I’d got the job. I’m sure there must have been some kind of medical checkup though I dont recall it, & presumably some kind of fitness test.

Since that day until the end of my police service a year ago, I never had another routine fitness test.

I always thought this was a curious omission & never really understood it, after all, the job I was doing was one which, you’d have thought, cried out for some kind if minimum level of fitness, if only to be fit enough to defend yourself in a fight.

Not so. Which is probably why there are so many overweight officers who have difficulty walking up a single flight of stairs, let alone chasing someone. Their only tactical advantage appears to be the ability to sit on a criminal, if they are ever fast enough to catch one.

Time was when most nicks in the force had some kind of multigym where officers could, in their own time, work off some of the beers consumed the night before at the police bars/social clubs which no longer exist either.

Gradually managers realised that they could save a few quid by not buying or maintaining training equipment & that the little rooms used to house the multigyms could be put to far better use as a bean-counting office, so the multigyms began to disappear.

Nowadays you can only count on fitness training if you’re on the firearms squad as its accepted that the gucci boys need to be fit while everyone else can spend their time eating pies.

That was the past.

Now it seems someone has decided things must change. There are rumours of a new broom in the fitness stakes.

Now I can honestly say I have never done something called a bleep test. I believe this is one of the fitness tests for routine applicants to the service. Doubtless some of my younger-in-service correspondents can explain in more detail but I think it involves running back & forth between 2 points before a beep goes off, the timing between the beeps decreases & the amount of runs you can get in before the beep beats you results in a score or ‘level’.

My colleagues in the job tell me that a dark shadow looms on the horizon on the form of a compulsory fitness test for all officers which will involve mainly the bleep test.

This doesn’t present a problem to most front line officers, certainly those with under 10 years in the job, but I believe there is a significant minority who couldn’t catch a cold much less a fleeing criminal.

This presents a problem for them, the bosses or both. Firstly, the officers who are the size of Lichtenstein have no chance of passing the bleep test unless a taxi service is provided. Secondly, what are the bosses going to do with all those who can’t meet the minimum standards? Are they going to provide time training to get people up to the minimum standard? Are they going to take people off frontline policing if they are no longer deemed fit enough for purpose? Where does the liability fall if someone had a heart attack trying a bleep test for the first time in 29 years? Is the rumoured compulsory fitness test just a scare tactic to make people examine their own fitness level?

Are officers who fail to be sacked from the force, surely there aren’t enough desk jobs for all the salad-dodgers?

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  1. MPS Probie says:

    The level currently required in the bleep test is so low that only the porkiest and laziest of us should struggle with it. I creamed it, and I’m large, lazy and hate running.

    As long as the Job provides suitable support for those failing it, I don’t see an issue. If anything, it will be beneficial for those who find they can’t cope with it, as it might help prod them into making a few tough (but health-enhancing) decisions.

    February 19th, 2010 at 01:24

  2. bill says:

    “Firstly, the officers who are the size of Lichtenstein have no chance of passing the bleep test unless a taxi service is provided.”

    200, you really do have a way with words.

    I nearly wet myself!

    February 19th, 2010 at 01:57

  3. Jobmet says:

    It is pretty sad that people see this as a bad thing, the premise from the job seems to be that society as a whole is getting fatter and less fit so police can reflect that too. Strangely enough the crack heads and robbers seem to still be pretty quick on their toes. There should be an annual test and yes it will mean the job having to give some time for people to get fit but surely it is better than having big fat knackers unable to get to our colleagues in an emergency. I will admit to some bias here as I am a public order medic and having to lift some 20 stone monster will probably blow my knees to bits.

    February 19th, 2010 at 07:39

  4. MPS Probie says:

    I thought your snazzy new blue printed epaulettes were good for an extra 25% strength boost? ;)

    February 19th, 2010 at 08:37

  5. Pc A Hunn says:

    The basic level you need to get in these days is a brisk walk. So if they up the levels for officers in the job they’ll have real problems. I’ve never seen so many fat probationers due to the low standards (driven by need for more BME officers in the Met). The problem lies in the time bomb they’ve created as these fat officers will in 99% of the cases just get bigger. So instead of 15-20 years of operational policing you will only be getting 5-10 years before their health problems sideline them to bean counting or the control room.

    Anyway the fitness test will never be allowed as it’ll be sizeist and so discriminate. There’ll be a couple of court cases a few red faced pay outs and the powers that be will fold as usual.

    February 19th, 2010 at 11:00

  6. shijuro says:

    they will be allowed – A-Hunn…

    Its another way to save money… dont forget- ALL Police authorities have to save MILLIONS… natural wastage will only reduce so far- they want other options… this may be one of them…

    February 19th, 2010 at 11:26

  7. Ted says:

    There is very few office jobs left. Things are changing and the current near bankruptcy of the UK means that the old ways may not last. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future cops who can’t meet a basic fitness level after appropriate warnings are sacked.

    I joined early and retired not long ago after 30 years. I wouldn’t fancy my chances of joining now at say 25 years old and needing to work as a front line cop until I was 60 to get a full pension.

    I could still pass the public order fitness test until I retired but doing it for another 10 years might have been a problem.

    For anyone who isn’t physically active in their own time a fitness test could be a problem as they get longer in service.

    February 19th, 2010 at 12:04

  8. 36 years to 200 weeks formerly THE Gutsy Kid Detective says:

    They really need to up the fitness levels of the ordinary policeman. The fitness tests as it stands can be completed without any outside training – a completely unfit individual can walk into the interview centre and pull it off without a problem.

    Thing is you can’t count on criminals being as lazy as this, and I would be very disheartened if a mugger or rapist got away because he was chased by somebody who’s only exercise came from poking at his kebab. None of this bleep test crap: Two mile runs, strength tests to make sure the average policeman is stronger than average joe-blogs, etc.

    It can take people years to join the police, it only takes a month or two to get physically fit.

    February 19th, 2010 at 13:43

  9. shijuro says:

    no offence 36years- but if its a race between a 55-year old and a 16-years old … my money is on the 16-year old…

    February 19th, 2010 at 16:13

  10. Stressedoutcop says:

    Bleep test – a joke

    I’ve got long legs and can literally fast walk up to the required limit. A couple of laps round a track or even army standard BFT should be considered.

    I found that running was very beneficial to my health until I chased after somebody slipped and knackered myself.

    February 19th, 2010 at 16:15

  11. Tony F says:

    I do hope the SMT will have to do it too….

    February 19th, 2010 at 19:26

  12. Blueknight says:

    I never had a test when I joined, but in those days every other recruit was ex military or a football or rugby player. And there was a height and weight limit.
    The ACC that interveiwed me for the job was an ex Marine Officer.He could spot a ‘fatty’ at 100 paces and one of the interview questions was ‘do you play sport?’(Nothing about diversity in thsose days!)
    In 1981 we had the street riots and fitness testing took off after that. Basically to be PSU you had to be fit. a mile and a half in under 12 minutes immediately followed by maximum press ups in a minute, maximum sit ups in a minute and maximum burpees in a minute. Sometimes we had to do the phys. before the run.
    I was PSU and EGT right up until I retired. I kept fit so I could earn the OT – and because I wanted to.
    There should be ongoing fitness tests starting with new recruits. All Officers should take the tests, but unless a minimum standard of fitness was a requirement of the job when the Officer joined, there should be encouragement and help rather than the threat of the sack

    February 19th, 2010 at 20:21

  13. Shijuro says:

    I dropped pub order training… You may as well write a sign on yourself – ‘get me sacked’…

    February 19th, 2010 at 20:36

  14. shijuro says:

    i did the old test… 1.5 miles in less than 12-mins plus the reg sit ups etc…

    easy compared to the BFT for the army… 3-miles… in boots and webbing … (fun really… PTI’s always had a laugh with us…)

    February 19th, 2010 at 22:41

  15. joe says:

    Does this mean Gadget will have to give up do’nuts?

    February 19th, 2010 at 22:50

  16. Slowjoe says:

    Isn’t this reasonably easy?

    For in-service officers, you bleep test them. If they fail, you retest on a monthly basis. Failure to improve each month would be a disciplinary offence.

    Verbal warning/writen warning/Final warning/termination would take 4 months to can. Otherwise, you would have someone meeting fitness requirements in a maximum of two years or so.

    February 21st, 2010 at 00:03

  17. Shijuro says:

    As I say again- how is it right to expect a 46-50 year old man or woman to be as fit as a 20-year old?

    February 21st, 2010 at 08:33

  18. Willing and Eager says:

    Current fitness standard for my force is 5.4 on the bleep test, and an average of 34kg push and 35kg pull over several reps on a “Dyno machine”. I keep myself fit through running, but do very little upper body exercise. I got level 11.2 on the bleep test (long after everyone else I was testing with had dropped out) and 64kg on the push and pull.
    The fitness standard is not high, and the distance for the shuttle runs I did was less than the standard 20m I was expecting. Anyone know if the police “bleeps” are also closer together, or is it just a lower standard?
    I have been told now I’m in that I’ll be re-tested regularly and the standard will rise to about 7, so at least they’re trying to improve the fitness of recruits.

    February 23rd, 2010 at 10:39

  19. Slowjoe says:

    I find this police fitness thing hilarious.

    I’m a 16 stone 41 yo computer programmer who can do
    12+ pullups/dips and “only” an 8 minute mile/level 8 on the bleep
    test. I consider myself too unfit for life in London, let alone the police.

    One of my friends is a met TSG pt guy, and he tells me that even
    the riot squad isn’t particularly fit. This is scary/sad. Someday, people
    will get hurt because of this state of affairs.

    Regarding fitness standards for older officers, it is indeed unreasonable
    to hold older officers to the same standards as 20yos. But you
    can simply lower the reqirements by a few percent a decade.

    And if you want action on this, simply add team fitness to the
    chief constable’s bonus targets.

    February 23rd, 2010 at 16:05

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