Women losing out in police fitness test that favours ‘blobby bobbies’

A POLICE fitness test should be scrapped because it favours overweight “blobby bobbies” over higher quality female officers, says a leading occupational health expert.

Monday, 9th September 2013, 10:31 am

Professor Craig Jackson led a study which found the timed obstacle course, designed to set a level playing field for men and women, to be “unfit for purpose”.

He described the test being conducted in conditions “like a sexist meat market” with male candidates wolf-whistling at their female colleagues.

His findings come at a critical time as police forces begin to roll out new annual physical fitness tests for experienced officers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The police “MoT” was recommended last year in a Government-commissioned review conducted by lawyer Tom Winsor.

His report found that in 2011, 52 per cent of male Metropolitan Police officers were overweight and 22 per cent obese.

Prof Jackson, head of psychology at Birmingham City University, investigated one type of fitness test used by police forces to screen recruits. The GeNTOC (gender-neutral timed obstacle course) test is designed to mimic on-the-job challenges faced by police officers.

Men and women alike have to complete the course in three minutes 45 seconds.

Prof Jackson analysed the test performances of 1,701 officer candidates from a single English constabulary, covering a period of five years up to 2012. He believes the results expose hidden dangers in one-size-fits-all “gender-neutral” fitness tests employed by forces.

“Police forces have a number of officers labelled fit when they’re unfit, and they’re screening out officers who are fit – they just happen to be female,” said the professor.

“The story here is not about fat coppers, it’s not about blobby bobbies – although we found evidence of blobby bobbies. The story here is that the test that is used isn’t fit for purpose.”