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Probe reveals dozens of Suffolk police ‘too unfit’ to ‘walk the beat’

Bobbies on the beat PPP-151015-102053001
Bobbies on the beat PPP-151015-102053001

Suffolk’s blobby bobbies could face the boot after a probe revealed dozens can’t even pass a basic police fitness test.

Pen pushing and panda cars have been blamed for the decline in the force’s fitness, which is among the worst in the country.

It comes after a Freedom of Information request revealed 43 officers were literally deemed not fit enough to police the public.

And some coppers face the chop after flunking the exam multiple times, including four whose repeated failure will likely spark a police probe.

The revelations come despite top brass claims that the test is easier than before.

The new‐look health MOT involves a ‘bleep test’ where officers walk and slowly jog for less than four minutes in 15 metre bursts, along with light weight lifting.

To pass the basic test officers have to reach level 5:4 ‐ which is approximately three and a half minutes ‐ although there are higher standards for specialist coppers.

Suffolk Police say any officer who fails the fitness test and are unable to take training won’t walk the beat.

“If a normal person failed the test it would be embarrassing, never mind a policeman ‐ that’s a joke,” said a police source, who took and passed the basic exam themselves.

“When you think how much time police spend behind a desk or inside a car, it’s little surprise they are so unfit.

“But how are officers expected to catch a mugger if they can’t even run?”

Police.uk, the official Government police site, say the test is designed to simulate day‐to‐day police activities such as foot chases and apprehending suspects.

The official site also boasts that the new test is “considerably easier than it once was” and “most people with a basic level of fitness should be able to pass it with very little training.”

John Ponter is a former high‐ranking Yorkshire police officer, who worked on several major cases during his career such as the Hillsborough disaster and several murders.

“Policeman used to walk the beat which would keep them naturally fit,” he said.

“But then panda cars were introduced and officers started doing more paperwork and overall there’s probably been a major decline in fitness throughout the force.

“Police fitness needs to be monitored, it is a physical job and they need to be fit to do that physical job.”

The testing was made compulsory last September, although Suffolk Constabulary say officers in the region have been tested for years.

It is now a legal requirement that all of the force’s 1,385 officers ‐ a figure which includes special constables ‐ sit it.

However, almost a third are yet to sit it.

Of those who did, 43 failed it. Only 11 of those have since passed it at the second attempt.

Figures show that four officers have failed it three times.

Officers usually have three attempts at passing the test. If they fail it a third time then the force can open up disciplinary actions.

This could include suspension or the sack.

The test came to prominence after super‐sized sergeant Andy Sharp made headlines after he was snapped on duty.

Colleagues defended the rotund officer ‐ with some saying the portly PC wasn’t even the fattest on the force.

Yet despite calls to keep more of an eye of officer’s waistlines, several forces ‐ including the City of London and Northamptonshire Police ‐ are yet to implement testing.

Some forces, including Bedfordshire Police, refused to disclose results.

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