As you may have seen yesterday, the Mail on Sunday published an article (accessible via the link below) regarding the application of fitness testing to the MDP and figures taken from the 2016/17 MDP Committee’s annual report on numbers of officers meeting these tests and levels of sickness absence in the Force.
The Times has subsequently published a news story online this morning (accessible via the following to those with a subscription to the newspaper) that takes heavily from the Mail on Sunday article.
The Federation was contacted for comment by the Mail but not by the Times, and in response highlighted the following points.
- Fitness testing is a relatively recent addition to the requirements on officers. A number of officers experiencing challenges should not be considered surprising given the lack of a previous assessment (i.e. no baseline to measure against)
- The vast majority of officers continue to meet fitness requirements, which are achieved while carrying a greater weight of equipment (including firearms) than officers in other forces. MDP officers are also expected to retain fitness levels for much longer as a consequence of a later retirement age the Federation continues to campaign against
- A shift from scientifically proven and bespoke testing for the MDP (developed by the Institute for Naval Medicine) to College of Policing standards places unrealistic and unreasonable expectations on officers given weight of equipment, daily duties and later retirement age
- As a force in which all officers are required to be firearms trained and qualified, the MDP must be extremely responsible in the management of sickness absence
- The MDP has a responsibility to support officers in meeting fitness requirements
While the Mail has used published figures from the MDP Committee’s most recent annual report, more recent figures highlight the MDP to be meeting expectations in terms of fitness testing and being very much in line with our colleagues in the Home Office.
In terms of follow-up activity, we will be briefing parliamentary supporters to ensure clarity on fitness testing levels within the MDP, and the Federation remains very clear that if officers are to be required to undertake fitness assessments, these must be suited to the specific role performed by the MDP; while there must also be support in place for any officers who may not meet the assessment criteria. The MDP has a defined process in place, and there is no suggestion this might be changed.
We will of course keep members updated.