09/09/2013 07:04 BST | Updated 09/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Craig Jackson, Health Expert, Slams 'Sexist' Police Fitness Test

A police fitness test has been slammed for being conducted in conditions "like a sexist meat market."

Drastic measures need to taken in order to improve "sexist" conditions that include male candidates wolf-whistling at their female colleagues, a leading occupational health expert has said.

The "unfair" test favours overweight "blobby bobbies" over higher quality female officers, Professor Craig Jackson said.

The health expert led a study which found the timed obstacle course, designed to set a level playing field for men and women, to be "unfit for purpose."

female police uk

A police fitness test should be axed for being 'sexist', an expert has said (file image)

He alleged that the whole environment in which the test was conducted was sexist.

"When I've seen this test being applied, it is a little bit like a very sexist meat market," said Professor Jackson.

"Lots of male officers gather round while the female recruits bounce and jiggle and run around, and they're wolf whistling and clapping - it's quite a sexist environment.

"Maybe get rid of it and go for something more like exam conditions, where females have a little bit more privacy and dignity."

His findings come at a critical time as police forces begin to roll out new annual physical fitness tests for experienced officers.

Shockingly, the report also found that in 2011, 52% of male Metropolitan Police officers were overweight and 22% obese.

"The story here is not about fat coppers, it's not about blobby bobbies - although we found evidence of blobby bobbies. The story here is that the test that is used isn't fit for purpose," he said.

Candidates have to negotiate a course that involves crawling on hands and knees, making a one metre forward jump, climbing up and down stairs, walking on a narrow beam, ducking under horizontal bars, weaving in and out of slalom gates, and dragging a simulated human body.

Men and women alike have to complete the course in three minutes 45 seconds - but setting the same time limit for men and women was "unrealistic", said Professor Jackson.

In addition, different aspects of the test - especially the gate weave and body drag - discriminated against the female figure, he said.

"It's the way we were created, it's a beautiful thing," said Professor Jackson. "The gates were not wide enough so men with snake hips could weave through quite easily. Females were wobbling and moving around, catching the gate, going back and having to do it again."

He maintained the GeNTOC test was "fat friendly", pointing out that overweight police officers could not fit so well behind shields or into stab jackets.

"We need more confidence in our police," he said. "If they can't move, they can't do their jobs.

"Our recommendation is, get rid of the test. If you are going to keep it, modify it to make it less discriminatory and unfair."