Harrogate police fitness test ‘small step’ in right direction

Chris Galley competing in the 2014 Tadcaster Triathlon (s)
Chris Galley competing in the 2014 Tadcaster Triathlon (s)

A North Yorkshire police officer has described the compulsory fitness test being introduced on September 1 as a ‘massive culture change’ for the police.

Christopher Galley, Safer Neighbourhood Inspector for Northallerton and Stokesley said the test was a ‘small step’ in the right direction but it needs to evolve over time.

He said: “I would say to bring a fitness test in is a massive culture change for the police as it’s rare that you are out through a fitness test unless you were training to be a different class.

“But that’s a voluntary change and with that comes an understanding that you have to up your game, So to bring a fitness test for the whole service is a big culture change.

“You have to take tiny steps with changes like this. If you take a massive leap a lot of people would probably fail and you would end up in a situation where some people would have to leave the service.”

Insp Galley is a member of North Yorkshire Police Triathletes Club and said the club has grown over the last five or six years to having more than 300 members ‘from different walks of life’.

Despite working shifts and caring for a family, Insp Galley said he tried to fit it in time for fitness when he can as it ‘should be an important part of any officer’s life.

He said: “If you take me, I do tend to spend a lot of rest time training. As years go by, I’ve had to become smarter with my time and that’s the key to keeping fit.

“Working shifts it is very difficult to put some time aside for training so you just have to be very clever with your training. When I get up, I will try to fit in half an hour of training and that will re-energise me for work.

“Training over shorter periods, no longer than an hour, but what I fit in is very important and I have a structured routine. Officers can get fit by being smart with their training, going on nice walks or doing a basic jog.”

However, while he said a fitness test was a positive step for the police, he maintained the test should be relative to the work you are doing.

He said: “Police officers are involved in running after people, lifting heavy loads and may have to run and jump over objects so the fitness test must be very specific to that.

“To do a bleep test to a certain point does not show what a police officer does. The fitness test should evolve into a more robust test and some people may need to a little bit of remedial work to get up to that level.

“Some might also have to be honest with themselves and take a look at their own fitness.

“Fitness is very important as every police officer has to be fit to do the job that we do. It’s physically and mentally demanding. Sometimes your kept for long periods of time after your shift ends.

“Conditions are very demanding and fitness leads into mental fitness. If you’re physically fit you can keep mental focus for longer periods of time but if you’re not you’re generally tired because of it.”