Fitness testing

Fitness testing

In August 2014, the College of Policing (CoP) issued guidance on how police forces should carry out officer fitness testing. The Job Related Fitness Test (JRFT) is designed to match the aerobic demands of personal safety training. The standard is the same as that used when recruiting officers. The JRFT involves a 15-metre shuttle run, to be completed to an endurance level of 5:4. There is no obstacle course or strength testing as part of this annual fitness test.

If an officer is not able to pass the JRFT at the first attempt, the CoP advises forces to provide support and allow a series of at least two retakes. If all appropriate support measures and alternatives have been delivered and the officer is still unable to achieve the required standard, the CoP advises forces to use the unsatisfactory performance procedures as set out in the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 procedure.

Further information and guidance is available here.


What do I have to do in the shuttle run?

The multi-stage shuttle run, or "bleep" test, is a physical test of aerobic capacity (stamina).  It is not a test of medical fitness, but one designed to test whether someone can attain the aerobic physical requirements to undertake a particular role. The JRFT used by the police service involves running between two points that are 15 metres apart (a "shuttle"). The pace of each shuttle is synchronised with a pre-recorded audio tape that bleeps at set intervals.

The test for operational officers (i.e. those required to undertake (Personal/Officer Safety Training as part of their role) are required to attain level 5 and 4 shuttles (5:4) on the bleep test. Officers who undertake certain specialist roles are required to attain additional levels on the bleep test to make sure that they are physically able to do the role.

How far do I have to run?

You will be expected to achieve level 5:4 on the bleep test in the time of 3-minutes and 35-seconds. At this point, the test should be stopped. To listen to an audio recording of the bleep test, please visit the fitness standards pages on the College of Policing website.

How should the JRFT be conducted?

The guidance advises that the test is administered in an indoor facility with suitable flooring and floor markings. You should wear appropriate physical training clothing and footwear, not operational uniform and/or equipment. The JRFT should be delivered by competent staff who hold a First Aid certificate.

Do I have to do a warm-up before the JRFT?

Yes. The test administrator must ensure that all candidates are sufficiently warmed up for the test.  This should involve some whole body activities such as jogging followed by appropriate stretching exercises, particularly the leg muscles.  Some forces may choose to familiarise candidates with the bleep test by taking them to the start of level 3 as part of the warm up. However, forces may want to consider allowing candidates to opt out if they wish to undertake their own warm up.

Will the force support me in practising for the JRFT?

The guidance advises running familiarisation sessions to allow officers to become familiar with the JRFT and, if necessary, allow officers to have an informal attempt. It also states that support processes should be considered. You could speak to your force's Physical Training Instructor who may be able to offer you some advice.

Do I have to do the JRFT?

The JRFT is for officers who are required to undertake Personal/Officer Safety Training as part of their role. If you have a disability, injury or illness that affects your ability to undertake the JRFT, you should be asked to fill in a medical questionnaire as part of the pre-join instructions and you should be asked to fill in a further health declaration on the day. These documents will be used to decide if you're able to take part. If you are pregnant or have recently returned to work after having a baby, you should not be required to undertake the JRFT. An individual risk assessment should be conducted before you take the JRFT.

I am on restricted duties; will I have to do the JRFT?

The JRFT is only for officers who are required to undertake Personal/Officer Safety Training as part of their role.

I am disabled; will I have to do the JRFT?

This depends on your disability and the role you perform – the JRFT is only for officers who are required to undertake Personal/Officer Safety Training as part of their role.

If you do a role that requires Personal/Officer Safety Training, but you cannot physically take the JRFT and you consider that you could show you are physically capable of performing Personal/Officer Safety Training, you should tell the force that you would like to take an alternative fitness test. You can find out more here.

I can't do the sharp turns in the bleep test because of an injury; is there a different fitness test I can do?

There are two approved alternatives to the shuttle run, although some forces offer a different test. The availability of alternative tests as a option is a local decision for chief officers. You can find out more here.

What happens if I fail?

You should be offered support and assistance to help you to the pass the fitness test in future. However, if you fail the fitness test three times, you will be made subject to unsatisfactory performance procedures. It is recommended that a period of at least six weeks is advisable between each retake in order to allow the officer time to train and develop to achieve the 5:4 standard.

For more information, please speak to the fitness testing lead at your local Federation branch.