Norfolk Police Federation welcomes debate on issue of tattoos for officers

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk.

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk. - Credit: Archant © 2005

One in three young adults has a tattoo, and some have several, but with the trend expected to get bigger in the coming years, getting 'inked' is now an issue that is being debated by police forces.

The Metropolitan Police have banned officers from having tattoos visible on their hands and faces since 2012 insisting that the force expects its officers and staff to 'maintain a high standard of personal appearance and dress that ref lects the role being performed'.

But the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers across the country, says officers should be allowed to have tattoos on their hands, necks and even faces – and is conducting research on the attitudes of the police service and public.

The federation, which hopes to have results to its survey by the end of the month, believes bans on tattoos might hamper the recruitment of promising candidates.

Michelle Lillie, branch secretary of the Norfolk Police Federation, welcomes research into the issue which she said needed debating.

She said: 'I think what the national federation are doing is quite interesting. Tattoos are more and more popular and we should reflect the society that we serve.

'It's interesting to have the debate and see what people think of them. From what they've had back so far it's quite polarising. People have really strong views one way or the other.'

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She said personally she did not think tattoos were a problem – and could actually help break to break down barriers in the community – as long as they were not offensive to the populations they were dealing with.

'We could lose some really good candidates for the police service just because they've had a tattoo when they were younger.

'As long as its not offensive we don't see it as a problem. It's about the skills of the skills of the individual rather than the artwork,'

Norfolk Constabulary's Uniform Standards Policy states: 'Where possible, tattoos should remain covered at all times whilst an individual is at work. Where the lower arms are tattooed, or of an offensive nature, a long sleeved wicking or other shirt will be provided.'

Chief Insp Vicki Martin, of the national federation, says there should be a 'sensible conversation' about tattoos as forces interpret the rules differently.

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