Home » British Transport Police axes compulsory fitness test – because ‘bleep test’ is unfair on women

British Transport Police axes compulsory fitness test – because ‘bleep test’ is unfair on women

  •  The force said female officers said the test was causing ‘indirect discrimination’ 

A police force has come under fire after scrapping compulsory fitness tests on the grounds they are unfair on women.

British Transport Police said female officers were suffering ‘indirect discrimination’ from doing a so-called bleep test – in which they have to run up and down a 15-metre track for three minutes 35 seconds – because they were far more likely to fail than men.

Now only new recruits and specialists, including dog handlers and armed officers, are required to pass a fitness test.

BTP, whose 3,000 officers patrol railway stations across Britain, said the move had meant 50 people who had failed the test had been allowed back on the front line.

But last night critics said that officers had to be in shape.

A British Transport Police Officer on patrol (stock image). BTP, whose 3,000 officers patrol railway stations across Britain, said the move to axe the bleep test meant 50 people who had failed the test had been allowed back on the front line

British Transport Police patrolling the Underground in November 2021 (stock image). One serving officer told The Mail on Sunday: ¿Members of the public call the police expecting officers capable of doing the job of protecting them. ¿It¿s embarrassing to see colleagues who can barely do up their stab vest¿

British Transport Police patrolling the Underground in November 2021 (stock image). One serving officer told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Members of the public call the police expecting officers capable of doing the job of protecting them. ‘It’s embarrassing to see colleagues who can barely do up their stab vest’  

One serving officer told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Members of the public call the police expecting officers capable of doing the job of protecting them.

‘It’s embarrassing to see colleagues who can barely do up their stab vest, and knowing they might not even be able to manage a two-minute jog is not just concerning but dangerous.’

For the past decade, all police officers have been required to take part in the annual Job Related Fitness Test (JRFT). Those who repeatedly fail to reach the required standard can be put on light duties or back-office work.

But there have been complaints that the so-called bleep test is too demanding, and may discriminate against older PCs and women.

It can be revealed today that BTP has become the first force to drop the test for all officers.

It had said in a 2021 report on the gender pay gap that it had concerns about the impact the test has ‘on women, particularly those going through menopause’.

Now the force has told the MoS: ‘We stopped doing JRFT in August 2022. This test was undertaken before officers were allowed to undertake personal safety training. It only remains in place for new recruits and those in specialist roles.’ 

It said its figures show that as of June 2022, 8 per cent of female officers (42) had failed the test compared with 1.9 per cent of men (45).

Welsh Rugby players taking part in the bleep test during Rugby World Cup training in 2019 (stock image). The  bleep test involves people running up and down a 15-metre track for three minutes 35 seconds

Welsh Rugby players taking part in the bleep test during Rugby World Cup training in 2019 (stock image). The  bleep test involves people running up and down a 15-metre track for three minutes 35 seconds

Of the 87 test failures, 86 per cent (75) were over 35 years old and 32 per cent (28) were above 50.

Rachael Etebar, director of people and culture at the force, said that since the removal of the JRFT ‘there has been no rise in injuries and it has meant we have returned 50 officers back to the frontline whilst avoiding any indirect discrimination’.

The force’s ‘union’, the BTP Federation, had been calling for the test to be scrapped. Its chairman Stuart Cowan said: ‘We asked the force to consider the role of the fitness test and we welcome the pragmatic approach they have taken.’

Chief constables across the UK have commissioned research into new fitness standards but are yet to decide what they should be.

Liberal Democrat MP and former police officer Wendy Chamberlain said: ‘It is clear that the National Police Chiefs Council needs to move forward with its review of fitness standard tests so the public can be confident that officers are working to the same standard across the country.’