Change ahead as Leeds’s boys in blue ditch helmets

28 september 2003.'Community police officers P.C. Steve Kinnon, left, and P.C. Brian Howard on their beat of Whinmoor, Stanks and Swarcliffe.
28 september 2003.'Community police officers P.C. Steve Kinnon, left, and P.C. Brian Howard on their beat of Whinmoor, Stanks and Swarcliffe.
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They’ve been a familiar sight on the streets of Leeds for decades, but the traditional policeman’s helmet is now set to become a thing of the past.

After complaints the headwear was “impracticable” for daily duties, West Yorkshire Police has decided that it will be replaced by a peaked cap for officers on the beat.

Special Constable Michael Middleton from Leeds wearing a peaked cap

Special Constable Michael Middleton from Leeds wearing a peaked cap

It is the latest change to the attire of officers at Yorkshire’s biggest police force, which last summer announced it was trading in its white shirts and ties for tops made from lightweight black fabric.

The peaked caps were already used by some officers, but the decision means they will now become “normal operational headwear” and helmets will be used only for ceremonial occasions.

West Yorkshire Police said the scheme would be “cost-neutral” because the caps were already widely available, and that in a survey last year the “overwhelming majority” of staff supported the change.

Superintendent Keith Gilert said the caps would be rolled out this year.

He said: “What we have found increasingly is that as the duties carried out by officers and their uniforms have evolved, peaked caps have become more appropriate and more in keeping than the traditional helmets in many situations.

“Whilst this move recognises the operational reality of modern policing, West Yorkshire Police firmly recognises the iconic importance and ceremonial significance of the traditional police helmet.

“There will always be occasions when the use of a helmet will be preferable over a cap and in these circumstances a helmet will be available.”

Nick Smart, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: “We have been in consultation with the force for some time over the issue of headwear for officers.

“We are pleased the force has listened to us and our members and acted on the feedback regarding the headwear issue.”

Date: 13th December 2017.
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