Belfast Telegraph

PSNI face tribunal over officer's beard

By Allan Preston

The PSNI is facing an industrial tribunal on whether officers should sport facial hair.

One officer is understood to be seeking protection for his facial fuzz with a hearing scheduled in November against the Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The rules outlawing beards, and the law-enforcement staple of the moustache, were implemented this year for some units in the PSNI due to health and safety concerns.

No PSNI officers have faced suspension for breaching the rules.

However, it's believed a number have felt under pressure to comply after being told they would face transfer to another department.

Superintendent Patricia Foy from Operational Policy Department said: "Officers and staff within certain roles are required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) as a means of control to prevent the inhalation of hazardous substances at work.

"When worn and correctly used, RPE can prevent serious lung conditions caused by inhaling dust and other contaminants."

She continued: "As part of the review of the PSNI's Corporate Appearance and Protective Equipment Standard policy in 2017, cognisance was taken of a range of guidance. A study by the Health and Safety Executive indicated that 'as facial hair is grown, the protection offered by a tight-fitting mask reduces'.

"As a result, a change was made in relation to officers and staff who carry out those roles. The updated policy requires that those officers and staff who may be required at short notice to wear RPE must remain clean shaven whilst on duty.

"The new policy was developed in consultation with the Police Federation and other key stakeholders."

In May this year, an officer from Gloucestershire was hailed as having 'the most hipster beard' in British police. PC Graham Smith's seven-inch facial hair turned heads during his patrol in Stroud.

He takes on the title from riot officer Peter Swinger who first achieved viral fame in 2015 when his waxed moustache and beard was spotted as he was helping to control an English Defence League rally in London.

In May, PC Smith revealed his beard was inspired by family rather than fashion.

"One side of my family are from the Orkney islands, and most of them seem to have beards in one variety or another," he told the Daily Mail.

"I don't consider myself to be Britain's newest hipster cop."

Belfast Telegraph

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