Hertfordshire Police are changing the rules around uniforms to promote a more inclusive working atmosphere.
In a move that will change a 37 year tradition, the force has developed its dress code, meaning the police ‘patrol flat cap’ will now be regarded as a gender neutral option for both male and female officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
The change, introduced at the start of May, will mean female officers will no longer have to wear the gender specific ‘bowler hat’.
Since women began to join the police service at the start of the 20th century, there has been a difference in the uniform and headgear worn by male and female officers.
The bowler hat was introduced for female police officers to wear in 1985, while male police officers have continued to wear a traditional helmet or patrol flat cap.
The idea to introduce the patrol cap as a viable gender neutral option was suggested to senior officers by the Herts Police LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Network, who recognised that police headgear is the last item of uniform that remains gender specific.
Chief Superintendent Matthew Nicholls, Force Lead for Sexual Orientation and Sexual Identity, said: “An officer brought the issue to our attention when they approached the Network and expressed they felt uncomfortable being defined as female through wearing the gender specific bowler hat.
“The patrol cap is a viable gender neutral option as it is worn by both sexes in other forces and even our own cadet force. We felt it was an important subject to consider as many officers and police staff may appreciate having the choice.”
Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Dunn, said: “Providing an inclusive work environment for officers and staff is very important to the Constabulary. After the subject was brought to our attention we reflected on our current dress code and decided it did indeed need updating.”
Photo credit: Herts Police