Police Uniforms


Thursday, July 3rd, 2008. 11:10am

Andy Harper’s morning show on BBC Radio Cambridge was discussing police uniforms this morning, with some listeners getting in touch complaining about scruffy police.

I joined in the discussion:

“One of our local policemen already gets himself dressed up like robocop with his tac-vest, armor, CS gas, baton, water bottle, three mobiles all flashing away on his chest; but its only going to get worse – there are proposals for Cambridgeshire to follow some areas of the country and have officers dressed in black T-shirts and baseball caps, and if no-one speaks up against they’ll soon all be carrying bright yellow TASERs.  I think its important for police-public relations the police are smartly, consistently and appropriately dressed.  There’s a place for the paramilitary get up but the streets of Cambridge in the summer isn’t it, I’d like to see my police in white shirts, stab vests if they think they need them, and traditional helmets – when was the last time you saw one of those?

In Cambridgeshire our PCSOs are dressed up almost exactly like police officers and I’ve seen numerous occasions where particularly older people have mis-identified them as police officers, elsewhere in the country PCSOs are much easier to identify.  Also in Cambridge the PCSOs ride round on stolen or abandoned bikes which have been recovered by the police, and that particularly makes them look scruffy and detracts from their authority and credibility.”

A could have added my experience of a visit to Norwich shortly after PCSOs came in, and saw a pair of them. One too little I’d imagine for the real police, and the other too large, wearing trainers and with their shirts untucked. At least in Norwich they don’t dress up like police officers as they do in Cambridge, but even so they were a complete mess and a disgrase to the city and our country.

5 comments/updates on “Police Uniforms

  1. Richard Article author

    Today I saw my first PCSO in a T-shirt in Cambridge; he was wearing a bright blue shirt which looked like the kind of thing a keen cyclist or climber might wear.

    He told me that there were black ones for police officers.

    I strongly support identifying PCSOs.

    I was surprised to learn that the new uniforms are only being brought into use as individual officers choose to order them. We have a situation where individual PCSOs may retain their current uniforms and resist the change to the more identifiable blue. I support the PCSOs wearing a more clearly identifiable uniform, but think we need consistency.

  2. Richard Article author

    I wrote to some local members of the Police Authority incase they were unaware of the situation:

    Mr Wilkins and Olive Main,

    I am writing you as relevant members of the Police Authority. As I would expect you would know, as of last week some police officers and PCSOs in Cambridgeshire are now wearing T-shirts which look like the kind of thing a keen cyclist or climber might wear. The PCSOs are wearing bright blue, and the police officers black.

    I support the PCSOs wearing a more clearly identifiable uniform which distinguishes them from police officers.

    There is a problem though; the blue T-shirts for the PCSOs are apparently and evidently not compulsory. In Mr Wilkins’ ward in Chesterton for example we have some PCSOs wearing the blue T-shirts and others wearing white shirts. It appears to me that the wet PCSOs are wearing the new blue T-shirts, but those who like to pretend to be police officers are resisting the change and dressing like police officers.

    I was surprised to learn, by asking a PCSO, that the new uniforms are only being brought into use as individual officers choose to order them. We have a situation where individual PCSOs may retain their current uniforms and resist the change to the more identifiable blue

    I would suggest there is a need for consistency, and would suggest you ensure that a date (as soon as possible) is set for all PCSOs to be wearing the new clearly identifiable uniform.

    Richard Taylor

  3. Lloyd

    I live in Devon,and the pcso uniform problem that you have in Cambridge is very similar to ours.Here they also dress up as police walking around chewing gum and often with a flourescent coat with NO Markings on it.Not forgetting of course the aggressive attitude by some.

    I strongly support the abolishment of
    pcso’s and the introduction of more
    real police and special’s.

    Despite the changes to the community
    warden’s uniform,they will continue
    to try and mislead people and try and make themselves look like real police.
    These wannabee’s have done nothing but cause harm and confusion to our communities.Abolish Now!

  4. James

    Reply to Lloyd -
    Hi Lloyd,
    I wonder if you think that the introduction of more PC’s and Specials will mean more uniforms on the streets because you’d be very wrong (I’m an ex-PC) – getting rid of 17,000 PCSO’s will just mean 13,000 more PC’s tied up in custody, taking statements and typing up crime reports…is that where you want your hard earned tax money going…?
    I think PCSO’s do a great job and it’s a shame that a minority of people are quick to slate them without ever bothering to get to know their local officer and find out more about what they do. There’s an old saying that says “Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”…do you think you’d ever put on a uniform and walk that mile Lloyd? Why not set the benchmark in your request for more Specials and join up as a Special in your community or are you an armchair idealist? Lastly – the PCSO’s do not make themselves look like “real” police – that is the uniform and equipment they are provided with. Lloyd – it’s a shame that small-minded people like you are still out there…maybe try walking that mile then coming back on and posting – you may gain more respect that way.

  5. Lloyd

    Hi James
    Minority of people!Take a look at the number of complaints against pcso’s. Just look!It seems to me some pcso’s seem to think that by adorning a uniform people will respect them,no matter what thier attitude is.
    As for walking a mile in thier shoes.Maybe they could try and walk a mile in other peoples shoes first!
    Not everyone is in a position to be a special,but I think they do a good job,and I am glad you imply that more of them would be preferable.Finally some pcso’s DO try and make themselves look like police,by not wearing full uniform or implying they have more power’s than they have.Made worse by a previous government that gave them a uniform so that they looked like police.
    You really should learn to practice what you preach mr walk a mile,and show people that (ex pc) James has matured, and can go on a forum without resorting to personal insults!

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