Norfolk recruiting police officers - but not those with 'offensive' tattoos

A recruitment drive for new Norfolk police officers includes strict criteria for tattoos.

A recruitment drive for new Norfolk police officers includes strict criteria for tattoos. - Credit: PA

New police officers are being recruited but tattooed would-be applicants are being warned they could be ruled out if their body art depicts skulls or weapons.

Norfolk Constabulary is recruiting police constables who will enter the role with a starting salary of £24,780 as part of the government’s police uplift programme of 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.

The recruitment drive for new officers entering their training programme which will include studying for a degree that’s paid for by the force.

Police officer with tattoo of skull.

Police recruitment guidance says careful consideration will be given to tattoos of skulls. - Credit: PA

Those applying have to meet strict criteria. They must be aged 17-57, pass fitness tests and ideally should not have any criminal conviction or cautions.

But tattoos mean applicants face extra checks with those with face or neck artworks not eligible to apply at all.

Anyone with tattoos on their arms, hands or other visible parts of the body will have to submit photo evidence to “ascertain if they are acceptable”.

To avoid “offence to members of the public or colleagues” the guidelines also state careful consideration will be given to images of skulls.

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation.

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation. - Credit: MartisMedia

Other unacceptable tattoos are those deemed “discriminatory, rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating, including all weapons for example guns, knives and swords”.

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The constabulary said it will “carefully consider the size, nature and prominence of visible tattoos and piercings to determine if they are acceptable”.

Norfolk says its policy is in line with the College of Policing’s national guidance put in place following a debate in which the Police Federation, including the Norfolk branch, argued bans on tattoos might hamper the recruitment of promising candidates.

Police officer with tattoos

Would be police recruits with tattoos on their arms will have to submit photographs for checks they are not offensive. - Credit: PA

“We live in a generation where tattoos are incredibly common and fashionable, however anyone who has a tattoo or piercing which could be reasonably interpreted as offensive to any religion or belief, or is in any way discriminatory, violent or intimidating, will not be accepted,” it adds.

Recruitment criteria also “strictly prohibit” those who are or have been members of organisations, like the BNP, National Front and Combat 18, whose “aims and objectives may contradict the duty to promote race equality”.

Nationally, 11,053 officers have been hired as part of the Home Office uplift target of 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.

In Norfolk, there are now 1,857 police officers - an increase of 180 against the uplift programme baseline figure.

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