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Reporter passes ""Blobby on beat"" test

PUBLISHED: 16:46 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 23 August 2010

STRENGTH TEST: Martin Sawden on push test.

STRENGTH TEST: Martin Sawden on push test.

A POLICE training team at the frontline of the county s recruitment programme has hit back at blobbies on the beat claims after damning fitness figures were released. Kent Police s training team said selection standards would not be altered after Home

A POLICE training team at the frontline of the county's recruitment programme has hit back at "blobbies on the beat" claims after damning fitness figures were released.

Kent Police's training team said selection standards would not be altered after Home Office figures for 2006 to 2007 show 35 per cent of recruits in Kent fail a basic fitness test - the worst results in the country.

The only force that insists on annual basic fitness tests for officers is North Wales.

Inspector Trish McCormack, of Kent Police, is responsible for initial training of successful recruits.

She said of the test: "I've passed it and I'm in my 40s. There is no excuse for young recruits failing the test. It is not a particularly harsh standard.

"You don't have to be Superwoman or Superman so if you do fail you should feel pretty ashamed of yourself.

"People do take the tests seriously. They do get nervous about them because ultimately it could cost them their job."

Journalists were invited to Kent Police College, in Maidstone, where the county's potential bobbies undertake the tests.

Recruits must attain level 5.4 on a "bleep" test - candidates start jogging between two markers 15 metres apart and must reach the marker before a bleep sounds. Each level has ten shuttles and the bleeps get faster every level.

It is widely adopted as an acid test of fitness, from the military to professional footballers, although normally over 20 metres. The bleeps are calibrated for a 15-metre course.

Candidates then do a push-and-pull strength test on a resistance machine.

Minimum on the push is 34kg and on the pull 35kg, set by the Home Office as the level a police officer needs to grapple with an assailant.

During the event, I scored a bleep test of 12.8, push at 75kg and pull 67kg.

Safety training officer Leighton Cooley said: "Calling police blobbies on the beat isn't very helpful at all.

"Just because you are big, it doesn't mean you can't perform a vital role within the police. Not all police work is dependent on fitness.

"Standards for recruits are there to be maintained. They get three attempts at passing and if they fail then they must re-apply."

After a review of policing in 2003, the minimum bleep score was dropped from 7.1 to 5.4.

Figures from Kent Police for 2007-2008 show 32 fails from 142.

A spokesman for the National Policing Improvement Agency said: "The physical fitness of police officers is recognised as important to the operational capacity of the service and the wellbeing of officers.

"Fitness tests are a crucial part of the recruitment process and recruits not passing the tests after three attempts will not be appointed."

He said a working group of the Police Advisory Board is seeking to set annual national fitness testing for police officers in specialist posts such as firearms officers.

He added: "These specialist posts have been prioritised because of the additional physical burden the roles entail.

"Once implemented and evaluated this will inform the future of fitness testing for regular police officers.

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