Derbyshire Police Federation

Federation welcomes Force stance on officer fitness tests

20 October 2023

Derbyshire Police Federation secretary Kirsty Bunn has cautiously welcomed the Force’s stance on new fitness test arrangements.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has decided that the physical requirement on the multi-stage fitness test (MSFT) to take the new Public and Personal Safety Training (PPST) will stay at 5.4 - or three minutes and 35 seconds.

Research commissioned by the College of Policing had said the physical requirement should be 3.7 - or two minutes and 28 seconds. However, chief constables have decided against using this revised standard.

Kirsty said that the Force will retain the 5.4 standard, and that officers who reach 3.7 will have failed their MSFT but will still be able to go on to take their PPST.

“The Force is allowing people who achieve higher than a 3.7 on the test, but technically fail because they haven’t achieved their 5.4, to go on and do their officer safety training,” she said.

“It has generally been older females who don’t reach the 5.4 and are prevented from going on to do their training and are restricted in post. It feels discriminatory to them but also has an impact on the number of operational police officers.

“Allowing them to go on and take the test is something we welcome, but we urge the Force to ensure that anyone who goes higher than 3.7 but doesn’t reach 5.4 doesn’t have that used against them, such as in pay reductions or unsatisfactory performance procedures (UPP).”

Kirsty said that the MSFT was not designed to be a measure of fitness but to assess whether an officer could take the PPST.

“The scientific research has established that 3.7 is the benchmark required to take the PPST,” she said. 

“And a successful completion of the PPST is the benchmark for the necessary minimum fitness to be a police officer.

“We know that older females in particular have a higher rate of not reaching what is now an arbitrary target of 5.4, so we’re heading into murky territory where certain groups of people could be disadvantaged in the workplace despite being at the scientifically-proven level required.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and to work on it for our members.”

Kirsty added: “To ensure officers are at their best when attempting the JRFT and PPST, it’s really important, from a health and safety point of view, that members fill out the pre-course health questionnaire to make sure people are safe when they’re doing it. No member should be turning up on the day and disclosing for the first time an underlying medical condition which may impact on their ability.”

Gemma Fox, deputy national secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has written to branches to warn that forces following the NPCC advice “are likely to be purposely, and unlawfully, discriminating against women and older officers, and in particular older women”.

Gemma said: “If chief officers do not use 3.7 as the benchmark of the requirement to undertake PPST, they run the very real risk of extensive Employment Tribunal cases.”

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