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British Transport Police 'stops annual bleep test requirement' for officers after union pressure

 (PA)
(PA)

The British Transport Police has revealed it has stopped its requirement for staff to reach level five of the bleep fitness test to continue frontline service.

Previously all officers were required to reach the benchmark and were subject to examination periodically but this is only now for new recruits, the Mail on Sunday has reported.

The force’s application page notes that police staff will not need to complete the test and that it is only for new staff as well as specialist roles - such as dog handlers and armed officers.

“For officers and PCSO roles, as part of the assessment centre process you will need to complete The Job-Related Fitness Test which is a beep test to level 5.4,” it states.

“You will be required to complete the bleep test again during training then annually during your employment.”

The bleep test has 21 levels of increasing severity (PA)
The bleep test has 21 levels of increasing severity (PA)

The bleep test involves running between cones that are around 20m apart within a time limit signified by a bleep, hence the name. The bleeps come at increasingly shorter intervals and there are 21 levels in total meaning that the total distance is around 5km.

Reaching level 5.4 would mean running for around six minutes but the test was seen to be biassed in favour of men and dropped back in July 2022 - but the change has only now been revealed.

The results from June of that year showed that 8 per cent of women failed the test compared to 1.9 per cent of men.

The move is said to have been made after union pressure and has allowed dozens of officers who were deemed unfit back into service.

The Standard has approached the British Transport Police for comment.

A statement provided to the Mail Online said: “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.”

Rachael Etebar, an HR boss, has said that the change of rules has allowed more people to return to the British Transport Police.

She added: “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.”

Stuart Cowan, of the union BTP Federation, said: “We asked the force to consider the role of the fitness test and we welcome the pragmatic approach they have taken.”