Home Office circular 59 / 2004
National Recruitment Standards - Medical Standards for Police Recruitment
Dear Chief Officer
This Circular sets out revised medical standards for police recruitment and replaces HOC 7/98. Eyesight standards remain as set out in HOC 25/2003.
The medical standards have been revised to bring them up to date and to take account of the implementation of the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act to police officers on 1 October 2004.
The main change to the standards is that from 1 October it will be unlawful to exclude candidates automatically on the basis of a medical condition or disability. Each case should be looked at individually and assessed on its merits. The standards also reflect fitness to serve at the time of assessment and for a reasonable time. This differs from the previous standards which reflected fitness at the time of assessment and a prediction that the individual was likely to remain fit for the full duties of a police constable for the foreseeable future and was unlikely to have a condition or medical history which could lead to premature retirement on health grounds.
The revisions do not mean that people who are not fit to perform the job will be recruited. There is no expectation that people who cannot fulfil a substantial part of the role will be recruited. It means that the police service will recruit able people who have, until now, been excluded on medical grounds or the likelihood of early ill-health retirement.
The standards indicate that some medical conditions may be less compatible with police work than others. This is indicative only and each case will need to be looked at individually and assessed on its merits in the light of professional information and judgement.
Applicants should be assessed in terms of ability based on the role, functions and activities of an operational Constable as set out in the Police Integrated Competency Framework (PICF) and fitness for work assessed in terms of the framework of National Medical Standards for Recruitment. This will provide a common base for consistent decision making across force.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)
Under the DDA it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person in the arrangements he makes to determine who should be offered employment, in the terms on which he offers that person employment or by refusing to offer, or deliberately not offering, him or her employment.
If the recruitment arrangements, working arrangements or premises substantially disadvantage a disabled person, then the employer has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments that would remove that substantial disadvantage and thereby enable that person to compete equally for the job and/or perform the job. Adjustments are not required where there is only minor or trivial disadvantage.
From 1 October, the DDA will apply to medical standards for entry to the police service. Rejection on medical grounds must be justified in terms of the aspects of the job which the applicant would be unable to carry out with a specific condition, illness or disease even if reasonable adjustments were made. Consideration should be given to the nature and extent of the disability, any adjustment which can be made, costs and practicality and likely effectiveness.
Medical assessment procedure
Forces should assess candidates’ ability for the job before conducting health checks and medical assessments. Assessing all candidates and deciding who is most suitable before conducting health checks avoids discrimination claims and challenges that the job was not offered on prejudicial health grounds.
From 1 October therefore only applicants who are successful at assessment centre should be asked to complete and submit a Pre-Employment Medical Questionnaire (PEMQ). By operating this policy, the Police Service will give disabled people the opportunity to compete for jobs and demonstrate their skills and abilities on a fair and equal basis.
From 1 October, recruits will additionally be assessed as to the risk of premature ill-health retirement. Recruits whose pensions costs are likely to be disproportionately high due to their risk of early retirement on the grounds of ill-health will be excluded from all ill-health benefits under the Police Pension Scheme whether related to a disability under the DDA or not. However, the pension contributions of this excluded group will also be reduced.
The Force Medical Advisor (FMA) will provide a medical opinion as to the risk of premature ill-health retirement. This will inform the decision on eligibility and access to the ill-health benefits of the Police Pension Scheme.
Amendment regulations are expected to be put in place by 1 October and a further HOC issued.
Guidance on the implementation of the DDA as it relates to the recruitment, medical and pensions procedures was published on 14 Septembr 2004. The guiance entitled “Disability and the Police” includes annexes on Recruitment; Training; Appraisal, Selection and Promotion; Serving Officers; and Pensions.