A force has recruited full time fitness advisers in a bid to improve officers’ health and wellbeing.
Policing leaders at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) have become concerned after repeatedly failing to hit the force’s annual target on staff absenteeism.
The current target is 10.5 days a year, but the CNC’s most recent annual report revealed the force has failed to hit this target for the past five years, as it stands at 12.8 days per officer.
To combat this, so-called “fitness champions” have been recruited, who advise on how to achieve and maintain peak physical condition, how to avoid injury and what to eat to stay healthy.
The advisers have been hired internally to help officers deal with the physical demands of the role, after a report revealed more were signing off work with injuries rather than illnesses.
CNC officers are required to carry almost 50 lbs of equipment, and many have complained of musculoskeletal injuries.
Despite this, new rules state that they must work until 65 – which will soon to rise to 68 – before they are entitled to claim their pension.
Established in 2005, the CNC currently has more than 1,250 armed officers who patrol non-military nuclear sites, and keep them safe from a terror attack.
Security at all nuclear facilities has been heightened recently due to increased threats from terrorist groups intent on stealing material or attacking the plant to cause an environmental disaster.
Last month, all nuclear power stations were put on high alert following concerns terrorist organisations may be trying to hack into their security systems.
Chief Superintendent Michael Vance said: "As a counter terrorist police force, the majority of CNC officers are authorised firearms officers and it is vital they maintain the required levels of fitness to carry out their role; which is to protect designated civil nuclear sites and nuclear material while it is in transit.
"The fitness champions are existing officers who receive extra training to support their colleagues to help them meet the physical demands of the role.
"They can offer advice on general fitness, nutrition and how to avoid injury to maintain the national fitness standard, which is set by the College of Policing."
Nigel Dennis, CEO of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, said: “The investment in employing full time health and fitness advisors within the CNC in our view has been an essential element of how our members have achieved the continuity of meeting the high fitness standards required of an authorised firearms officer within this specialist police service.
“Their knowledge, skills and understanding of our members’ operational role will be required to a far greater extent if the Government continues to follow an unacceptable and irresponsible approach to a normal pension age for CNC officers that doesn't align itself to the rest of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland police service.”