To ensure you are fit enough for the demands of the role to be a Special constable you will undertake a 15-metre multi-stage fitness test to level 5:4 as part of the recruitment process which you must pass before you can be appointed.
Candidates will be invited to attend Lancashire Constabulary HQ to undertake the fitness test which will be administered by suitably trained staff. Those candidates who do not attain the required level will not be able to proceed with the recruitment process but may be offered further attempts at the fitness test. If you fail the fitness test after three attempts your application will be halted and you will not be eligible to re-apply for a period of six months.
Following successful recruitment Candidates will commence the Initial Programme. As part of this you will be required to undertake the Fitness Test again at the start of the Personal Safety Training module. In line with the College of Policing any Special who fails to attain the required level (Level 5:4) will not be permitted to undertake the Personal Safety Training Module.
From 1st September 2014 as part of the Winsor Recommendations all Special Constables are required to undertake an annual fitness test and therefore you should commence and maintain a suitable fitness programme throughout to ensure you can complete the annual fitness test.
It is advisable to gain medical approval before you commence any exercise programme. The benefits of exercise should far outweigh the risks but if you have any concerns about your health either before or during your programme then consult your GP.
Multi-stage Endurance Fitness Test (Bleep Test)
Special Constables are sometimes required to perform prolonged activities such as foot chases, stair climbing and public order duties. The ability to perform such activities is largely based upon your level of endurance fitness, which is your capacity to continue prolonged physical activity. As such, endurance fitness reflects how efficient your heart and lungs are, and is required in any activity which causes you to get out of breath.
The multi-stage endurance fitness test commonly referred to as the ‘bleep’ test involves running to and fro along a 15-metre track and placing your leading foot on each line in time with a series of audio bleeps. If you arrive at the end line before the bleep sounds you should turn around, wait for the bleep before resuming running and adjust your speed. The test is progressive in that the timing of the bleeps starts off slowly but becomes faster so that it becomes more difficult to keep up with the required speed.
At the end of each level, the time interval between bleeps will decrease so that your running speed will need to be increased. The first running speed is “Level 1” the second is “Level 2” and so on. Each level lasts for approximately 50 seconds, but the number of shuttles in each level increases as the test progresses. A double bleep and the commentator announcing the start of a new level will denote the end of each level.
Once you achieve the required level for your role you will be told to stop running by the Fitness Tester. In some cases a Fitness Tester will have to withdraw you from the test when it becomes apparent that you are not achieving the required pace. You will be withdrawn from the test if you are unable to meet the end lines on 3 consecutive occasions. The Fitness Tester will issue a verbal warning on each occasion that you do not reach either end line to allow you to catch up with the ‘beep’.
To clarify, warning one is given if short of the line when the bleep sounds. Warning two is given if short of the line again as the bleep sounds (two consecutive misses/warnings). Warning three if short of the line again as the bleep sounds (three consecutive misses) – TEST OVER.
NB: After the first and second missed line the person must still run forward and touch the line before turning to run back.
If of course the line is touched in time with the bleep after the first or second warning then the person is either still in the test (warnings start again from 1) or the test is passed, depending on which level they are at. The line must be touched in time with the bleep at the 5.4 stage, irrespective if previous warnings have been given or not.
5.2 line missed = 1st warning
5.3 line missed = 2nd warning
5.4 line missed = test failed
5.2 line missed = 1st warning
5.3 line missed = 2nd warning
5.4 line hit in time with bleep = test passed
5.2 line missed = 1st warning
5.3 line hit = person has previous warning nullified.
5.4 line missed = test failed.
The line missed on 5:4 is an absolute fail. This is with previous warnings or not. Otherwise someone could stop a quarter of the way down the course after the 5:3 level or even at the 5:3 level and say they have passed because they still had a warning/(s).
The same guidance above will be applicable to all other Police Specialist Roles fitness test levels.
How to improve your Test Scores
There are a number of ways in which you can prepare for the fitness test as detailed below:
To develop and maintain endurance, try to do one or a combination of these activities three times a week with each continuous session lasting 20-40 minutes. For those individuals who have not exercised regularly in the past, it is advisable to start with gentle continuous exercise sessions lasting 15 minutes and then build up to 20 minutes or more over a couple of months. Interval training and varied pace training can then be performed once you have developed a good endurance base.
There are many different activities that you can participate in to improve your level of endurance fitness and these can be categorised into sporting activities and rhythmical exercises.
Playing sports regularly such as football, netball, hockey, squash and rugby can be an enjoyable way of maintaining and improving further your level of endurance fitness. (Remember you should be fit to play sport first) Any sport that causes you to get out of breath and lasts 30 minutes or more will be of benefit. Many sports fit this category; choose one that will fit into your lifestyle and that you enjoy. You are then likely to continue playing. The extent and rate of improvement in endurance fitness from participation in sport will be dependent upon your initial level of fitness and on how hard you play.
The most rapid improvements in endurance fitness will be made if you engage in activities that use large muscle groups and thereby create a large aerobic demand. Such activities include running, cycling, swimming, rowing, aerobics, and step aerobics. There are three training methods that you can use to improve your level of endurance fitness using rhythmical exercise; these are continuous, varied pace and interval training. The following refer to running however this can just as easily be substituted by any other form of rhythmical exercise.
Involves exercising either continuously for a set time (20 minutes or more) and recording the distances covered, or exercising for a set distance and recording the time taken. For example, with running, the most popular of the two is to run a set distance, (at least 3 miles usually starting and finishing at home), and try to reduce the time taken to cover it.
Heart rate is a good indicator for controlling the intensity at which you exercise continuously. A suggested level is between 130 and 160 beats per minute. You will find that at this intensity you will be able to sustain a conversation with a partner. Heart rate can be measured simply by taking the pulse. To do this place two fingers on the underside of your wrist in line with the bases of your thumb and count the number of beats in fifteen seconds. Multiply this figure by four to give an estimate of your heart rate per minute.
Varied Pace – Fartlek
This particular training method involves varying the pace at which you run, interrupting the steady continuous running with occasional faster running or short sprints. In order to be particularly effective it must be well planned. A typical varied pace session could be: -
1. Jogging (five minutes)
2. Fast evenly paced running (three minutes)
3. Brisk walking (two minutes)
4. Evenly paced running with 50-60 meter sprints every 200 meters (five minutes)
5. Jogging (two minutes)
6. Evenly paced running with occasional small acceleration sprints (three minutes)
7. Jogging (five minutes)
8. Rhythmical exercises, skipping, gentle knee raises and stretching to warm down (ten minutes)
This involves running for a set time or distance, a specified number of times with periods of rest or recovery in between. An example of an interval training session would be to choose your normal running course and run 75% effort for three minutes followed by a jog or brisk walk (depending on our level of fitness) for 2 minutes. Repeat this process for the whole course.
As your endurance fitness develops the duration of the running and the recovery can be varied. Alternatively run a set distance within a set time e.g. 800 meters in 4 minutes with a timed rest recovery in between. This can be performed on a nearby field or track.
• Try to train as much as possible with friends as this will make your exercise programme a more enjoyable and safer activity.
• Try to monitor your progress by recording times taken, distances covered, recovery times etc. This will provide feedback on improvements, which in turn will provide an incentive to continue training.
• Set yourself targets that can be realistically achieved. This will help motivate you to train.
• Do not overdo your training, start gently and build up gradually over a period of months.
• Try to spread fitness sessions out rather than playing squash, weight training and swimming all in one day and then doing nothing else for the rest of the week.
• When training for muscular strength, always train the muscles at the front and the back of the body, to ensure a balance of strength is maintained.
• Never train when you are feeling unwell. This can lead to serious injury.