New vision standards for police constable recruits

1 August 2005
Volume 06, Issue 3

in 2000, the Home Office issued temporary guidelines for on UK mainland forces. However, they were ignored by many force medical advisers, who felt that their own standards were more relevant.

Background

Eyesight standards for police recruits have always varied significantly between forces. This made it difficult for optometrists to advise patients interested in a career as a police constable. Rather bizarrely, it also allowed potential candidates to shop around and apply to a force with more lenient standards. For example, Northamptonshire police used to require unaided vision of 6/6 in the better eye with no less than 6/18 in the worse eye, excluding all but the smallest degrees of ametropia. Other forces with less stringent standards asked for an unaided vision of 6/60, which would permit refractive errors of up to about –2.00D, depending on pupil size and the higher-order aberrations of the eye. At the other end of the spectrum, Thames Valley police made no mention of an unaidedvision requirement and specified ‘6/6 binocularly when fully corrected’, suggesting the acceptance of any degree of refractive error. None of the police forces in the UK specified any near-vision requirement. For serving police constables, this inconsistency complicated the transfer of officers between forces since an officer would meet the standards for one force but be ineligible for another.

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