THE compulsory fitness test failure rate among Wiltshire Police officers is one of the highest in the country, as it is revealed just under five per cent have been unable to make the grade.

Of the 384 officers who have so far taken the test, which became compulsory for all UK forces last September following the Winsor Review, 18 have failed.

The test involves a bleep test up to the level of 5.4 – equivalent to jogging for three-and-a-half minutes – in a gym.

The move has been criticised by the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, for the lack of discretion for officers or staff whose roles do not have a physical element.

Wiltshire Police Federation chairman Mike White said: “In general we are supportive of fitness tests but they should be related to the job that is required. Our concern is it may be potentially discriminatory, not only in terms of gender but also age.

“Of course front line response and firearms officers need a certain level of fitness but when you are in a predominantly investigative roles, such as CID, then they don’t require that same level.”

Officers who fail the test will not face any punitive measures in the first year but from September those who fail three times will face disciplinary action. Figures obtained from 27 forces in England and Wales after a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association showed that of 13,024 officers who have been tested, 353 failed – 2.7 per cent. Of those, 236 were women.

The constabularies with the highest percentage of failures were Suffolk at seven per cent, Gwent at six per cent and Wiltshire with five per cent.

Supt Charlie Armstrong said: “The fitness test is an important part of an officer’s role, including ensuring they are fit enough for their own safety as well as ensuring officers can protect the public.

“We will be working with those who haven’t passed to ensure that they have the right support.”