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West Midlands Police Federation

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New colour blindness tests for firearms officers

19 September 2018

Firearms officers who are currently able to patrol our streets may be told they can no longer carry weapons due to new colour blindness regulations.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has said the new rules could seriously reduce the number of officers carrying weapons.

And it believes the regulations, which have been introduced by College of Policing, could be discriminatory on grounds of disability and gender, because most of the 6,459 armed officers in England and Wales are male, and men are much more likely than women to suffer from Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) or colour blindness.

Previously, officers were required to pass on one of two CVD tests; they now need to pass on both. Retrospective testing is also taking place for those who previously undertook these tests and identified with mild CVD.

Federation vice-chair Ché Donald said: “The test is intended to screen out CVD sufferers, yet we know from extensive research studies that the tests used are unreliable and do not achieve the objectives set out by the college and are not a proportionate means to achieving a legitimate aim.”

In 2016, the Government announced it was boosting the number of armed officers by 1,500 in response to the increased terrorist threat. However, this uplift has not been met with the latest figures showing the total is some 700 officers short of that.

Ché added: “This single-handedly could destroy the uplift. Hundreds will be affected.”

A spokesperson from the College of Policing said: “The key points which the standards establish are the ability to identify a subject based on a description, of which colour could be a significant factor, particularly where this may lead to pre-emptive use of force or officers using lethal force or firearms, and the ability to operate firearms with a red dot sight system.

“However, the testing which officers have to undergo if they fail screening, was updated last year. The changes do not exclude all officers with colour vision deficiency but only those below a certain threshold.

“The standards were reviewed based on the role, equipment and expert technical and medical advice on colour vision deficiencies.”




October 2020