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UK: Bloated bobbies face new police fitness tests

LONDON (AP) – Police officers who run out of breath before making an arrest were warned Thursday they could be dismissed under proposed new fitness rules for British law enforcement.

Outlining plans for an overhaul of police pay and conditions, lawyer Tom Winsor _ commissioned by the government to carry out the first major review in 30 years _ said officers should face annual tests to check they are in shape for their job.

A review of about 11,500 officers and staff who work for London’s Metropolitan Police showed about half of male employees and about a third of the females were overweight.

“Running after a suspect, or apprehending a violent or disturbed person, requires physical fitness and strength,” Winsor said. “All officers need to be physically fit enough to do their jobs.”

Under his proposals, police would undergo a yearly fitness check involving running exercises. Those who fail to meet specific standards would have their pay docked, or in extreme cases could be dismissed.

Winsor said that officers are currently only required to pass a fitness test when they join as a recruit, and that only some specialist police units _ such as firearms squads _ carry out regular assessments.

“Keeping fit is key to an efficient and effective police service, and it is what the public would expect and deserve. It is right and proper that police officers should do everything they can to keep themselves physically fit,” London’s police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said in a statement, supporting the plan.

Former West Midlands police chief Edward Crew, who also worked on the review, assured officers they would not be expected to hit the standards set by elite athletes. “We are not looking for supermen,” he said.

The review also recommended lower starting salaries for constables _ the entry grade for British police officers _ and new educational requirements for recruits.

Britain’s government has not yet discussed whether it plans to take up all or any of Winsor’s proposals.

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