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Express & Star comment: Fitness test not priority for police

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

With police forces across the country seemingly losing the fight against crime, a lack of funding is repeatedly blamed.

Police have other priorities

Crime is rising at an alarming rate, particularly the terrifying increase in knife attacks and tragedies. Violent crime has doubled in the Black Country over the last five years.

According to the recent Express & Star crime survey, which attracted more than 10,000 responses, 87 per cent of people in the Black Country and Staffordshire do not think police are doing a good job.

While 97 per cent had no faith in the criminal justice system.

The police themselves admit they have to prioritise crimes with some no longer being investigated.

West Midlands Police say they have 2,000 fewer officers dealing with calls now than in 2010.

Added to this, police stations are shutting at a rapid rate despite opposition – only four per cent agreed with the closures in the poll – to save money.

So against this background, the tens of thousands of extra pounds required for new police fitness tests seems a little unnecessary.

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Obviously, the public wants reassurance officers are fit to do their job.

No-one wants the crooks thinking they can easily get away from the average bobby on the beat.

And for their own health and safety, officers must surely meet certain fitness levels.

However, for some time West Midlands Police has been using the ‘Chester Step Test’ to ensure officers meet the fitness levels.

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New thinking has come along and the force is now required to meet different guidelines and introduce a costly new ‘shuttle run’ system. Following a trial period, the fitness tests have now been put on hold while the force considers whether they should continue given the high cost.

We can only hope common sense prevails and a decision is made very quickly not to waste this money. The force seems to have been using a perfectly adequate test for years – there is no suggestion the step tests were harmful at all. When so many painful decisions are having to be made over spending priorities by the force, this surely cannot be one of them.

How many officers would £200,000 a year fund? Let’s hope this distraction is quickly rejected so chiefs can focus their attention real crime-fighting.

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