Last week we heard from Inspector Gadget about how his force encouraged officers to embrace spitting as a cultural expression.Â He quoted a 2010 Diversity package that stated “It is judgemental for a police officer to challenge this behaviour” before asking “why are the cultural norms of the young jobless community less acceptable than those of their more fortunate peers”.
Echoing the opinion expressed in his blog, I too cannot understand how behaviour like this could ever be excused. It should be challenged, and dealt with robustly for what it is…a disgusting habit that remains, in my opinion, well and truly within the bounds of what is unacceptable. Suggesting that Police should turn a blind eye to this on the basis that it might damage public confidence and might prevent Police from effectively embedding into the society we serve is ridiculous!
Today, a different strain of the diversity virus has been reported in the national press. It represents a potential erosion of the high standards most of us expect from what always used to be considered a disciplined service.Â Ian Pointon, chairman of the Kent Police Federation has suggested that the policy on visible tattoos be relaxed in order that they might break down barriers in communication, acting as an ice-breaker in some situations, between Police and public.
This proposal has been rejected by Kent Police who’sÂ Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas said:
There is an expectation that officers and staff maintain a standard of appearance and dress considered professional, smart and approachable while on duty.
Currently all forces in England and Wales have guidelines regarding tattoos that could be intimidating, or were capable of causing distress to others. These rules are there to ensure that the professional image of the Police officer is maintained and that we remain approachable to all when out on patrol. I feel that accepting the proposals of Ian Pointon would start anÂ irreversibleÂ dilution of the standards we expect from UK Police Officers.
Whilst I welcomed the loss of the shirt and tie in preference for a uniform that was actually fit for purpose, I do not feel that the current regulations should be relaxed or removed. I am not saying that tattoos are an unacceptable form of personal expression (providing their content is not itself offensive – I have one myself!) but I feel that in a role such as that of Police Officer, that personal expression should remain personal – not public. Anything other than a token motif or phrase should be in a location covered by normal attire such as upper arm, back or chest.
Perhaps I am a prude, lacking an understanding of modern cultural expression, or maybe I feel that Policing has enough to cope with at the moment with budgets being slashed and numbers being decimated without measure such as this being introduced which threaten to erode structural integrity from the inside.