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One in five fails fitness test to join Police Scotland



Police in Scotland rejected more than one in five potential recruits last year for failing the fitness test, it has been revealed.

Figures released by the force show that more than 500 people who applied were turned down because they were not fit enough.

Between April 1 2022 and March 31 2023, 532 applicants to Police Scotland regular constabulary failed to meet the standard of fitness required.

That is 174 more than the preceding 12 months when 358 applicants were rejected because they fell short of the national standard.

The officers who fail the test are given “appropriate support” and can re-submit their application at a later date.

There are no mandatory fitness tests on serving police officers in Scotland, unlike England, where they became compulsory in September 2014.

However, Police Scotland probationer officers undergo six fitness tests throughout their two-year probation period.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “It should be made crystal clear to all pupils in secondary schools – and maybe even in the final years of primary school – that anyone with aspirations to join the police must meet minimum fitness requirements.

“They will have years to get in shape – or not bother to apply if they don’t. Even a P1 child should understand that.”

The figures, released under Freedom of Information legislation, show that 2,348 applicants passed the fitness test in the past year.

Bleep test

The Police Scotland fitness test usually involves a ‘bleep test’ shuttle run against the clock. Applicants are asked to repeatedly run between two markers placed 15 metres apart and the goal is to reach each marker at the sound of the beep.

The running test is usually held in an indoor gym hall but applicants had to complete a timed mile and a half run outdoors during the Covid pandemic.

As well as physical tests, Police Scotland candidates have to meet language, numbers and information handling standards in an education test, pass an interview, go through a vetting process and pass a criminal record check.

Candidates must also pass medical, financial status and business interest checks, be tested for substance misuse, come through the two-year probationary period, and pass the final fitness assessment.

Supt Simon Wright, head of recruitment at Police Scotland, said: “Policing in Scotland is a highly rewarding career and all candidates are taken through a rigorous recruitment journey to ensure Police Scotland recruits the best talent from across the United Kingdom.

“Part of this process involves a fitness assessment, where a candidate’s readiness to take on the day-to-day role of a police officer is assessed.

“This is not a competition and is designed to evidence that the candidate is ready for our 12-week training programme and a career in Police Scotland.”

“We are recruiting record numbers of police officers every quarter. A very small number of those applying to join Police Scotland do not obtain the necessary level of fitness, but will be given appropriate support and invited to re-submit their application following a specified period of time.

“Police officers are required to have a high degree of personal fitness and my advice to any candidates is to spend time preparing and developing this in advance of attending our fitness assessment,” Mr Wright added.

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