In the Media

Police in Norfolk ditch Swat-style uniform for traditional shirt and tie

PUBLISHED November 20, 2012

Four years ago Norfolk Police joined forces across the country in adopting black zip-up polo shirts and combat trousers which are considered ''more practical and hard-wearing''.

It was part of a trend which has gradually seen bobbies move away from the traditional shirt and tunic favoured by Dixon of Dock Green towards a look described by some as ''paramilitary''.

But from January, 47 officers from Norfolk's Wymondham safer neighbourhood team will take part in a trial of specially designed white shirts.

A NorfolkPolice spokeswoman said: ''The white shirt sees a return to the traditional image of British policing with a collar and tie replacing the black zip-up polo shirt.

''Independent academic research has identified that the public regard the time-honoured image of police officers as more professional, honest and approachable than its black counterpart.''

Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: ''This new shirt, which has been successfully adopted by the Metropolitan Police Service, is designed to meet the rigours of modern policing while enabling officers to project an image that is as professional and smart as the service they deliver.''

It is not yet clear how much the switch would cost if rolled out to all of Norfolk's 1,500 officers.

''We are mindful of our financial challenges and, in these times of austerity, we would work to minimise any additional cost and achieve economies of scale in the event of a change in officer uniform,'' Mr Gormley added.

The final decision will be based on feedback from officers and members of the public.

Dave Benfield, general secretary of Norfolk Police Federation, said it was a move likely to be welcomed by the rank and file.

''From a federation perspective we're fully behind the trial,'' he added.

Former Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson last year spoke out against the all-black kit favoured by an increasing number of constabularies.

He said he wanted his officers to look like ''traditional British bobbies''.

He told LBC Radio: ''I'm very passionate about continuing to make sure Met Police officers look like Met Police officers in white shirts, and not awfully keen on the move in other areas of the country towards different sorts of uniform that look more paramilitary.''