The Defence Police Federation are receiving a high number of enquiries in relation to ‘Fitness Testing’, from our members. This appears to be due, in part, to the conflicting messages being circulated from all areas of the Force. This Circular is therefore published with the sole intent of explaining where we are currently at and hopefully goes some way to allaying any fears/concerns you may have at this time.
Firstly, the DPF will not permit any fitness test to be introduced unless the requisite Occupational Health provisions and other safety measures are in place. DPF will not agree to a fitness test until such times as we are content that it is appropriate for the task, is legally defensible and agreement has been reached. It is a requirement that in order to change our members Terms and Conditions of Service that we agree – as the negotiating body recognised in law – and the introduction of Fitness Tests and potential dismissal of individuals who fail to maintain those levels are a fundamental change to our Conditions of Service.
As most of you will be aware the Chief Constable has both blogged and spoken of his preference for the Multi Stage Fitness Test, or bleep test as it is more commonly known. His position is that it is a simple test to be implemented and therefore gives little room for failure due to its simplicity.
We concur with the Chief that the bleep test may be a simple test to implement but other maximal tests are as equally simple to implement and are as equally inaccurate with regards to prediction of fitness. An Occupational Fitness Test has to accurately reflect the critical components of the task undertaken otherwise it is not legally defensible as it may be discriminatory. It is our contention that until such times as the critical components of the task have been both physically and physiologically tested by an appropriate medical practitioner, it cannot be determined that 7.6 on a bleep test (or any other level or any other test) accurately portrays the daily tasking requirements imposed on an MDP AFO, Marine Officer, Dog Handler, etc.
We are fully aware of all the issues you have raised and have proactively engaged with many agencies in an effort to ensure that any Occupational Fitness Test (OFT) is wholly designed for MDP and not just an adaptation of a test designed elsewhere. We have continually questioned the validity of the bleep test as a standalone OFT and are jointly pursuing (with the Force) an agreed course with the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM).
The Home Office Department Forces developed and determined fitness tests in conjunction with Professor John Brewer and Lilleshall National Sports Centre in 2009 for a variety of police roles including AFO, Marine, Dogs and ARV. But as these were specialist and voluntary roles failure of the test never attracted a sanction as severe as dismissal on the grounds of capability which is precisely what an MDP officer could face.
We too have grave concerns about the OH support available through the MoD and, in fairness, CCMDP is also aware of the difficulties likely to be encountered. However, until such times as a final decision is reached on the new OH contract it is difficult to determine whether or not a bespoke package is required thus we must await the outcome before further discussions can take place albeit approaches have been made elsewhere in the meantime.
We are still in the infancy stage in relation to determining a Job Related Fitness Test (JRFT or OFT). INM will be seeking volunteers to obtain the physiological data they require, hence, a further Force Order may be issued in the near future seeking voluntary participants. If so, you can rest assured that INM will fully comply with any Health and Safety measures and conduct appropriate health checks prior to any voluntary test being conducted.
As stated earlier you can rest assured that we will not permit any Fitness Test to be introduced unless the requisite OH provisions and other safety measures are in place. Additionally, no test will be introduced until the INM has had the opportunity to conduct a critical task analysis to determine the minimum requirements to safely carry out any particular task. Consequently, and irrespective of what is written elsewhere, it can be categorically stated that DPF will not agree to a fitness test until such times as we are content that it is appropriate for the task, is legally defensible and agreement has been reached on the rest of the Terms and Conditions within the MDP TACOS review – fitness will not be separated from the TACOS review.
Hopefully this Circular allays any fears you have but please do not hesitate to contact Head Office should you require anything further.
Eamon Keating John Regan
National Chairman General Secretary