Number: C3022 Date Published: 22 September 2021 Version 8 – September 2021
1.0 Summary of Changes
This procedure has been rewritten on its review. It has been renumbered from C 0602 to C 3022 and comes under the ownership of Head of Professionalism.
2.0 What this Procedure is about
This procedure sets out the standards of appearance for all police officers and police staff, so that the image portrayed of Essex Police is professional. Whilst compliance with standards of appearance is important it is only one part of how we present ourselves professionally. Posture, civility and how we communicate are equally important. We maintain public consent and build confidence through consistency.
We must be aware that public perception of the services we provide is influenced by the appearance of the people providing that service. Maintaining a smart, professional appearance that is appropriate for an individual’s role should be considered a core part of customer care and contact management.
Any deviation from this procedure for a specific role or purpose must be authorised by the Head of Professionalism. For new roles, the Head of Professionalism should be consulted on any bespoke standards of appearance. Reasonable adjustments, whether for a protected characteristic or not, can be addressed and audited by AMG chairs.
This procedure has been reviewed due to change of ownership to Head of Professionalism. A large number of changes have been made from the previous version (version 7 2015).
Compliance with this procedure and any governing policy is mandatory.
3.0 Detail the Procedure
3.1 Overall Appearance
Staff will maintain a high standard of personal appearance and must be clean, neat, tidy and well groomed. Staff must not chew gum whilst on duty or smoke/vape whilst engaging with members of the public and only in designated smoking areas whilst on police premises. Smoking or vaping from police fleet vehicles is never permitted. Smoking or vaping whilst in the company of a detainee is never permitted. When the type of work involved makes a formal standard of dress impracticable, any clothing worn must be presentable and appropriate to the role being undertaken.
This document should not be interpreted as an exhaustive list of the rules, but it does serve in highlighting some specific issues, and it gives guidance on general matters. The overarching theme is that members of Essex Police, should ensure that their personal appearance is such that any member of the public would not be offended or have cause to doubt their professionalism.
Supervisors and managers have a responsibility to address unacceptable standards of appearance and to ensure that the high standards set out in this document are complied with and maintained. This may be brought to a supervisor’s notice through personal observation, comments from colleagues or from members of the public. Managers may decide on suitability of dress and appearance, taking into account the guidance contained within this procedure, any reasonable adjustments authorised as well as the role being undertaken.
Members of staff who do not maintain a satisfactory standard of personal appearance should be informed of the specific areas to be addressed and a failure to improve any such areas may result in formal performance or conduct/disciplinary proceedings.
3.2 Police Officers and Police Staff who Wear Uniform
Police officers and police staff will only wear current force issued items of uniform. It is recognised that individual officers have different internal climate control, so whilst uniformity when joint patrolling is desirable and should be the default, it is no longer mandatory where specific welfare needs are taken into consideration (i.e. both wearing fleeces or neither wearing fleeces). Essex Police aims to allow the requirements of particular faith groups to be incorporated in versions of uniform where practical (e.g. officers choosing to wear traditional Muslim headwear). Any requests to wear items of jewellery appertaining to an individual’s religion should be considered in terms of the implications for Health and Safety, the Human Rights Act and any other relevant legislation. Advice should be sought from the Diversity and Inclusion Manager (Human Resources) as required.
Cases of maternity should always be considered practically, and reasonable adjustments made to wear non-uniform and smart clothes where required.
The following paragraphs deal with specific areas of appearance. Staff are reminded that this is not an exhaustive list, but it is an indication of the standards expected.
Staff should be mindful that certain hairstyles may generate adverse comments from the public which may affect relationships with, and the co-operation of, some members of the public. This will impact upon the effectiveness of the service and any styles likely to be controversial should not be worn when on public duty.
For uniformed police officers and staff, hair must be neat and not shaped or shaved into patterns or motifs. Moderate layering is acceptable, but a sharp dividing line between long and short sections or patterning within the hair is not. Unless on identifiable religious grounds, hair must be worn above the collar. Staff with long hair must wear it neatly and securely fastened up, relatively close to the head and so as not to interfere with any uniform headwear. For safety reasons, long ponytails that fall below the collar are not acceptable. With the exception of faint modest highlighting, hair may only be dyed one colour that is not conspicuously `unnatural'. Hair bands or ties must be plain and the colour in keeping with the main uniform.
An 'unshaven', i.e. stubble appearance is not desirable and may undermine public confidence. Full beards or moustaches are permitted and should be grown during rest days or period of annual leave. In the absence of the above, staff will be expected to be clean shaven unless an authorised reasonable adjustment is in place.
Essex Police do not impose gendered uniform on its uniformed officers and staff. Traditionally Female officers were supplied bowlers, male officers were supplied custodians and flat caps. Now, all officers at point of uniform issue will be able to select their headwear choice regardless of gender, with a uniform entitlement of either custodian or bowler and flat cap. Uniformed officers and PCSOs will wear appropriate headgear at all times when in the open air on public view, whether on police/private premises or not.
Police officers deployed on mobile patrol will wear caps/bowler hats when out of their vehicle, with the exception of when they are deployed on fast roads or when ‘airside’ on aviation sites.
When on foot patrol, constables and sergeants must wear the custodian helmet or bowler rather than cap:
Navy/Black baseball caps - only issued to authorised firearms, dog handlers, rural engagement team, search officers and public order officers and must be worn with the peak facing front. Operational Support Group Officers will only wear the baseball cap when a Public Order Command Structure is in place and mode of dress is dictated, at all other times normal headwear requirements apply;
Religious headwear - if staff for religious reasons, wear alternative headwear to the item provided for the role / task being performed, they should be aware of the implications of any loss of protection and discuss deployment / health and safety issues with their line manager. Each case should be considered on an individual basis. The style of alternative headwear is a matter of personal choice but must be neat and presentable. Any material must be of a matt finish and one colour in keeping with the main uniform. Reasonable costs can be reclaimed providing authority is obtained from local management prior to purchase; the material then becomes Essex Police property. Certain synthetic fibres can be a fire hazard and must be avoided. The best materials are wool based. There is no requirement for the Essex Police badge or banding to be worn on this item;
Hijab-permitted if worn in place of the service issue bowler hat, or under the bowler if preferred, the wearers face and any Service insignia and numbering must remain visible. To ensure that any risk to health and safety is minimised, the hijab must be fixed in such a way that allows quick release, e.g., press studs or Velcro. If a high visibility jacket is being worn, the hijab must be tucked inside the collar. When worn without the added head protection of a bowler and a risk assessment requires the wearing of a bowler hat, the bowler hat must be worn over the Hijab;
The Kapel (skullcap) may be worn under the custodian/cap.
Only force issue, plain blue lanyards are permitted to be worn to display identification.
A plain watch (not novelty, excessively large or offensive) may be worn.
Up to three finger rings may be worn.
Items of religious significance can be carried / worn, subject to a risk assessment by the line manager. Exemptions may be permitted based on religion or belief requirements.
The above personal items will be permitted only where there is no significant health and safety risk unless precluded by the requirements of a specific Operational Order; separate instruction may exist for training activities. If staff are physically unable, or feel unable to remove items of religious requirement, they may be securely covered to minimise any risk.
No jewellery should be worn which would cause injury to self or others in conflict management situations, or which might cause offence or would cause any member of the public to doubt the professionalism of the individual. The wearing of body jewellery or body piercings such as tongue studs, nose studs, and eyebrow jewellery is not permissible.
Individual items of other jewellery must not depict words, letters, symbols or pictures which may cause offence to individuals or sections of the community.
Only one discreet tie pin may be worn. This should be of a suitable size and the design or logo must not depict any words, letters, symbols or pictures likely to cause offence to individuals or sections of the community. Name badges and medal ribbon brooches are the only other badges which may be worn, and then only when in uniform. Other badges (Velcro or otherwise) that are permitted are the Union flag including the thin blue line and tri service versions.
The Service participates in the following and staff may choose to wear the following pins/badges/wrist bands:
Medical alert bracelet/necklace;
The Police Memorial Day Badge for the week leading up to Memorial Day (St Michael's Day) and/or when attending or policing a police memorial service or reception;
The red Haig Poppy of The Royal British Legion, for the annual campaign period (28 October to 11 November or Remembrance Day if later), or as directed in an Operational Order;
The Help for Heroes badge / wrist band;
The thin blue line patch/badge (whether or not backed by union flag) in rectangular shape);
The tin blue, green and red line patch/badge (whether or not backed by union flag) in rectangular shape.
Uniformed staff should position a badge or poppy on the left lapel of the tunic, or similar position on other garments; securely fastened at all times.
3.2.4 Piercings and Make-up
Uniformed officers and staff may only wear discreet earrings and only one item per ear. No jewelled or ringed earrings are allowed.
No facial piercings are allowed to be shown. If personnel have facial piercings they should be removed or covered with similar skin colour zinc oxide tape to cover the piercing.
Make-up should be professional in appearance.
Nails must be kept to a short length suitable for the duty being performed.
Officers should be mindful of the injury that may be caused to themselves or others by excessively long nails. Nail varnish will be clear. No other nail decorations may be worn.
All tattoos from any potential applicant are required to be photographed and are subject to review and fall into three categories:
1. Tattoos that will never be visible (i.e., back, chest, legs, upper arms) These tattoos are acceptable unless they are offensive to any religion or belief, or could be perceived as being discriminatory, violent or intimidating;
2. Tattoos below sleeve line of wicking shirt. These tattoos will be visible and therefore require more scrutiny. If they fit any of the criteria in 1, they will be rejected. In addition, tattoos which are sinister in nature or have the potential to scare will be rejected (examples of this would include; skulls, mummified faces, weapons, animals baring teeth);
3. Tattoos anywhere on the neck, head or hands will be subject to further scrutiny. A decision will be made taking into consideration exact location, size and nature.
Potential applicants with tattoos in the above categories will be assessed on an individual basis. A photograph of the tattoo will be obtained and the decision on whether to accept the individual will be referred to the relevant Chief Officer.
Tattoos that are deemed permissible are not required to be covered.
Managers and supervisors will be expected to ensure compliance and any individual failing to comply with this policy will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Additional tattoos added after employment must comply with these principles and the Code of Ethics.
Exemptions for temporary (henna) decoration may be permitted where an individual can show that this prohibition would otherwise place them at a particular disadvantage which is related to their race for example, Mehndi applied for a specific ceremony or celebration.
Sunglasses will be of a plain design and they will not be mirrored. Sunglasses, unless medically prescribed, should not be worn when talking to members of the public.
The following links will provide guidelines on:
X 2001 Procedure – Provision of Uniform and Equipment
3.2.9 Wicking Shirts
The standard uniform dress will be black wicking shirts for warranted officers and blue wicking shirts for police staff. These shirts will be worn by the following:
All officers performing the role of Police Constable, Sergeant or Inspector;
All officers performing the role of Chief Inspector and above when engaged on a rostered duty involving operational deployment;
Members of the Special Constabulary performing the role of Special Police Constable, Sergeant or Inspector;
Members of the Special Constabulary performing the role of Special Chief Inspector and above when engaged on a rostered duty involving operational deployment;
Any staff with designated powers;
Any other member of staff required to wear body armour;
Facilities Assistants, Property officers, Reception Staff and any other job roles designated as uniformed.
All officers are reminded that wicking shirts:
Are designed to be worn under body armour;
Must have rank insignia clearly visible on the epaulette to be worn on the upper arm, therefore epaulettes will no longer be worn on body armour.
The exception to this is Authorised Firearm Officers who will wear a different style of wicking shirt and will still be required to wear epaulettes on their body armour;
Must be tucked into trousers or skirt;
Will not be worn with the sleeves rolled up;
Will not be worn with a tie;
Must be zipped up to the top.
The initial issue of wicking shirts will be allocated to individual officers and staff in accordance with the following:
There will be no entitlement to annual issue. Shirts will be replaced by HQ Uniform Stores when the initial issue is no longer serviceable. Officers requiring replacement items should return the unserviceable items to HQ Uniform Stores via the internal mail system, or in person with a brief note clearly outlining their rank, pin, name and home station, together with the reasons for exchange.
Officers and police staff eligible to wear white shirts will be permitted to wear either a long or short-sleeved shirts at any time throughout the year. A tie will be worn with the white shirt at all times except where the following conditions apply:
The officer is wearing a short-sleeved shirt (or long-sleeved shirt with sleeves rolled), during the summer period 1 May - 30 September;
The shirt is worn open neck with only the top button undone.
High neck vests, neck chains or other adornments are not to be visible. In circumstances where an individual elects to wear a long-sleeved shirt the sleeves may be rolled up to rest immediately above the elbow.
Staff and officers should wear clean shoes or boots that are appropriate to their uniform and role and these should be in a good state of repair.
For uniformed roles shoes and boots must be black in colour have plain fronts without embellishments or exaggerated shape. They must have low heels, no coloured stitching and no coloured soles. Boots provided for specific duties, e.g., public order, are not to be used for normal duties. Plain dark navy or black socks will be worn with trousers.
3.2.12 Display of Insignia
Members of staff must only wear uniform items bearing insignia corresponding to their role. Police Constable’s to Chief Superintendents must wear epaulettes that denote their rank and collar number, unless acting. Those temporary in rank must display the correct epaulettes and collar number.
In particular PCSOs and other police staff should not wear insignia or uniform indicating that they are police officers.
3.2.13 Body Armour
Standard personal issue body armour will be worn over the wicking shirt but underneath any outer garment such as a fleece or raincoat.
All uniformed officers and staff up to the rank of Chief Inspector issued body armour or other personal protective equipment, including ‘appointments’ are required to wear it at all times whilst outside of a police building or in the ‘custody envelope’ unless specific managed restrictions or risk assessments apply.
3.3 Non-Uniformed Officers and Police Staff
Where staff and officers are not required to wear uniform, they will dress in a manner that is both suitable and appropriate to their role and profession. They will be expected to maintain a high standard of personal appearance at all times. Officers and staff will be required to wear a collar and tie or suitable equivalent business attire when interacting with members of the public and should ensure their shoes are clean and in a good state of repair. Their hair should be maintained in a neat and tidy condition and be of a natural colour.
Staff should be mindful that certain hairstyles may generate adverse comments from the public which may affect relationships with, and the co-operation of, some members of the public. This will impact upon the effectiveness of the service and any styles likely to be controversial should not be worn when on public duty. An unshaven or stubble appearance is not permissible. Neat beards or moustaches are permitted. In the absence of the above, staff will be expected to be clean shaven.
Officers or staff deployed on any covert operation or proactive team will be exempt from these requirements, however their clothing should still be practical to their role, i.e., no flip-flops.
Dress-down days are not permissible in any department or section.
Where the job undertaken requires alternative wear, ‘T’ shirts or polo shirts with logos (other than a small and inoffensive company name) will not be permitted; neither will the exposure of midriff skin due to cropped/short tops.
The wearing of trainers, jeans or ‘leisure wear’ such as tracksuits or jog pants/leggings will not be acceptable other than in circumstances where they are appropriate for the working environment. For example: when staff are involved in office moves; certain pre-planned searches; ‘dirty/installation work’ where overalls or protective clothing are not required, or covert duties.
For non-uniformed officer roles shoes and boots must be plain and not brightly coloured. They must have closed plain fronts, low heels and be without embellishments or exaggerated shape. They must have no alternate coloured stitching or soles. Plain dark, navy or black socks will be worn with trousers.
When wearing skirts, officers and staff should wear unpatterned stockings or tights of tan, black or grey shades.
For non-uniformed staff roles shoes and boots must have low heels and be without embellishments. Whilst open toed shoes are permissible, flip-flops are not.
3.4 Court Attendance
The usual standard of dress for Court appearance will be ‘normal operational uniform’ together with utility belt and standard appointments.
There may be occasions when, as a matter of judicial discretion, the wearing of appointments will not be appropriate. These should be identified at ‘plea and direction’ stage and instructions conveyed to the officer by CPS prior to attendance at Court.
Additionally, in the exceptional cases where an officer is required urgently at Court, when off duty, the wearing of appointments may be waived in the interests of expedient attendance at Court.
The usual standard of dress for Coroner’s Court will be ‘normal operational uniform’ as for Magistrates’ and Crown Courts (see above). However, utility belts and appointments will only be worn after the officer has sought permission from HM Coroner/Coroner’s Officer.
The wearing of ceremonial uniform at any hearing or court process will only take place with the authority of the officer’s Head of Department.
3.5 Wearing of Police Uniform at Public Events Whilst Off Duty
Officers wishing to wear uniform at a public or private event whilst off duty must make a request in writing to the Head of Department stating the date, time and where the event will be held as well as a full description of the general nature of the event.
Officers should be reminded that approval does not include the authority to carry the following:
Where the application is in response to a nationally organised event, a risk assessment will have been completed identifying control measures to reduce the risk to officers engaging in such activity. The risk assessment should be brought to the attention of the officer and a copy attached to the application. In the event that a risk assessment has not been completed or is otherwise not available, a full risk assessment will be completed by the applicant’s line manager.
Approval will not be granted where:
Attendance at the event could potentially be viewed as undermining the impartiality of the service;
No risk assessment has been completed or the risk assessment identifies a disproportionate assessment of risk to the officer;
The views of any host force are not supportive of the application.
In the event that approval is granted, it will be on the understanding that the officer will be attending as a representative of their respective force. Officers will be expected to respond to any incident that they could reasonably be expected to and will be regarded as being on duty when dealing with any incident at the time of the event. Any policing incidents that are witnessed or brought to the officer’s attention must be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
In all cases when approval is granted, uniform must be worn that is appropriate to the event, the risk assessment and the prevailing weather conditions, in order that the dignity of the uniform is maintained at all times.
All officers attending such events are reminded of Health and Safety considerations and the importance of presenting an appropriate, professional image of policing.
3.6 Coats and Fleeces
Uniformed officers and staff will only wear plain black or fluorescent coats.
Fleeces and coats will not be worn under stab vests or tac vests.
All coats and outerwear will not be worn open but be securely fastened to a point above the breastbone unless wearing a tac-vest and there is an operational need to have ready access to appointments.
3.7 Clothing during Teams Calls/Working from Home
When on duty, regardless of your location, these standards of appearance apply. If you are normally a uniformed officer or member of staff working from home and operating on Teams, then the standards for plain clothes/non-uniformed personnel apply.
3.8 Limited Duties
Uniform officers on limited duties (whether restricted or adjusted) are required to wear their uniform unless there is a medical or operational reason why this cannot be achieved, or where an officer/member of staff is pregnant. Where uniform cannot be worn for these reasons then the plain clothes standards still apply.
4.0 Equality Impact Assessment
EIA – October 2020
5.0 Risk Assessment
Officers and some Staff are required to carry a number of items on uniform belts and attached to their clothing. No extra items should be attached which would raise Health and Safety issues.
The following have been consulted during the formulation of this document:
Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Learning and Development
Heads of Department
Christian Police Association
Catholic Police Guild
Front-line focus group
Regimental Sergeant Major 216 Parachute signal squadron (16 Air Assault Brigade)
Chief Officer Group
7.0 Monitoring and Review
The Head of Professionalism will be responsible for monitoring the application of this procedure and will ensure that it is reviewed within 1 year of its date of publication. Further, in line with the Equality Impact Assessment, any line manager taking performance or discipline actions as a result of poor standards of procedure should liaise with the Head of Professionalism to allow monitoring of any disproportionality or equality issues.
8.0 Governing Force policy. Related Force policies or related procedures
C 3000 Policy – Professional Standards
X 2001 Procedure – Provision of Uniform and Equipment
8.1 Data Security
Essex Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy – W 1000 Policy – Information Management.
8.2 Retention & Disposal of Records
Essex Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy – W 1012 Procedure/SOP - Records Review, Retention and Disposal.
We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected. Victims/public should be reminded that Essex Police take the protection of personal data seriously as described in the privacy notice.
9.0 Other source documents, e.g., legislation, Authorised Professional Practice (APP), Force forms, partnership agreements, (if applicable)