Headlines are supposed to catch your attention and “Fat Police Weighing Down Patrol Cars” in the Telegraph today certainly did that.
Apparently, some police officers are so overweight that, in combination with the long list of equipment carried in police cars these days, some of their cars are within around 14 stone of their weight limit even before they have a suspect on board. The cars specifically referred to here are the 1.6-litre Ford Focus and the 1.3-litre Vauxhall Astra. So one force has already issued instructions that only one suspect can be carried at a time. I am trying to keep a straight face as I write this because it is a serious matter. An overloaded car will handle badly and will require longer stopping distances. In the event of an accident there could be legal consequences for the officers involved and for the force as a whole.
OK, so we need to spend more on our police cars so that they are suitable for the anticipated loads or have been adequately upgraded. Perhaps the police ought to review the equipment carried – is it all really necessary?
As for the “Fat police” – I think this is probably unfair. It seems to me that hefty police officers, who keep themselves fit, are a good thing when dealing with equally hefty villians, and that such officers could well be overweight by average standards for their height but they are not necessarily fat.
A suggestion, apparently from the Liberal Democrats, that all officers on the beat should have an annual fitness check-up and be given a desk job if they fail, has missed a useful point. By all means give them free annual check-ups but there is already too much paperwork and it won’t help them to get fit again. Most officers would rather be out there doing practical policing, so let them do that, but on bicycles. They would probably get to like it.