Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hundreds of prison officers failing important fitness tests every year

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HUNDREDS of prison officers are failing annual fitness tests which ensure they are in shape to tackle criminals, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.

They get three attempts to pass the assessment — with failure seeing them dismissed on medical grounds, or offered alternative employment.

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Hundreds of prison officers are failing annual fitness testsCredit: Alamy

Staff are tested on grip strength, dynamic upper body strength, speed agility and the ability to hold a riot shield.

They must also reach a level of 3.5 in a beep test, running shuttles between two cones for about three minutes.

By comparison a nine-year-old school child would be graded as having a poor level of fitness if they achieved a score of 3.5 or below.

A Freedom of Information request found that 606 officers failed in 2021/22, and 469 failed the following year.

The tests are designed to assess whether staff are at the minimum level of fitness necessary to perform the role of a prison officer safely and effectively.

This year there have been 125 failures.

There are about 22,000 prison officers in England and Wales.

The Prison Officers’ Association has previously said the test should be axed and replaced by health screening.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Ninety six per cent of prison officers pass fitness tests on their first attempt.”

In March it was also reported that there was a 30 per cent jump in the number of jail officers, female and male, prosecuted for inappropriate relationships since 2017.

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