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Multistage Fitness Test (Bleep Test)

What does it measure?

It is used to measure a person's VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake). The procedure is used to measure the maximal endurance of an individual.


The test involves running back and forth between 2 marks 15m apart. These runs are synchronised with a pre-recorded CD, which plays beeps at set intervals. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep reduces, forcing you to run quicker over the course of the test, until it is impossible to keep in sync with the recording.

Pass Mark

The pass mark for this test is Level 5 Shuttle 4. Loughborough University conducted research and found this has to correspond with the minimum VO2max needed to be a police officer. To get to this mark, you must complete 35 shuttles in total, equalling a total distance of 525 metres. This takes approximately 3m 30 seconds to complete, and the pace increases gradually from approximately 4.9 mph during level 1 to 6.2 mph during level 5.


The test is near maximal, meaning that you carry on to about 95% of your capacity. You will only be stopped by the PTI if you look under severe stress or miss 3 consecutive beeps on the test.


You should undertake training that will increase your cardiovascular fitness. Such forms of exercise include cycling, swimming, rowing, using a stepper or x-trainer in a gym and running. Running is the most specific form of exercise to the test, so should make up the bulk of your training. However, if you have an injury aggravated by high impact exercise, you may want to continue to build or maintain fitness with low impact forms of exercise, such as cycling. When running, try to incorporate 180 degree turns to simulate the test. This is much more demanding, especially on your legs, and will prepare you more than just running in a straight line all of the time. If possible, try to get hold of a bleep test, which can be purchased from local sports shops. These are usually 20m tests, but will give you a good idea of what is involved.


If you are unsuccessful on your first attempt, you may have two further attempts at a later date. 

Medical Screening

All applicants will be medically screened in accordance with the National Recruitment Standards - Medical Standards for Police Recruitment. Home Office Circular 59 / 2004.

Eyesight standards remain as set out in HOC 25/2003.

Durham Constabulary applies these standards for Special Constable applicants. Each case is looked at individually and assessed on its merits. The first stage is for the health professionals within the Occupational Health Department to paper screen your completed medical history questionnaire.

The initial checks are:

  • Have the eyesight standards been met?
  • Is BMI 30 or below?

There is a requirement for all candidates to have a BMI of 30 or below before they proceed through to the medical screening process. However the constabulary recognises that the amount of lean body mass you have can result in it being difficult to achieve a BMI of this level for some candidates. Any candidates with a BMI of 30 or above will be contacted by Occupational Health and asked to provide evidence of their body fat composition; if this does not exceed 25% for male candidates and 35% for female candidates they will be permitted to progress to the medical stage. Those with a body fat percentage of >25% will be deferred until they reach the required level.

If, on the day of medical  a candidates BMI level is calculated at higher than 30, only those with a body fat percentage of 25% (M) and below or 35% (F) and below will be allowed to continue. The remainder will not complete the rest of the medical or fitness test and will be deferred until they reach the required level.

On occasions, following a deferred application further medical information is required from a GP to assist in the consideration of whether or not a candidate is likely to be suitable for the role, functions and activities of an operational officer. In these circumstances’ applicants will receive a letter outlining the medical information required. This will need to be provided at the applicants’ own cost. 

The application will be put on hold until the information is received.

Once all necessary information has been obtained, and where the individual is given clearance to proceed to medical, a member of our Occupation Health Unit team will advise you of the date of your examination. 

Individuals, who reach medical stage, are assessed for fitness on the day of examination and for a reasonable time. As all applications are considered individually, on their merits and each circumstances are different, there may be occasions where an alternative process is needed to ensure due consideration has been given to all applications.