Belfast Telegraph

We'll seek public input on plans to revamp officers' uniforms: PSNI's Byrne

Claire McNeilly speaks to Chief Constable Simon Byrne
Claire McNeilly speaks to Chief Constable Simon Byrne
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Northern Ireland's top officer has promised to allow the public to have their say on the new PSNI uniforms on social media.

Simon Byrne told the Belfast Telegraph that he hoped to unveil an alternative to the current bottle green ensemble on Facebook in the near future.

He said a brand new uniform will signal his commitment to "changing the look and feel of the PSNI to modernise it".

Mr Byrne said it was "time to modernise" because officers are currently "policing the streets of Northern Ireland in a uniform designed in the 1980s".

"I don't want to be Northern Ireland's answer to Trinny and Susannah but we want some consensus from the staff about what it looks and feels like," he said.

"It's got to be durable and it's got to manage that balance between being professional but being practical, respecting tradition but is fit, not just for 2019, but for the next few years."

A formal review of the current bottle green uniform was launched last year after officers gave feedback about the PSNI's traditional uniform.

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No decisions have been taken as a result of the review, although some uniform changes have already been made.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, who has responsibility for uniforms within the PSNI, also confirmed that a polo shirt has been introduced for some of the organisation's non-public facing roles.

When asked what he had in mind, Chief Constable Byrne replied: "Broadly something that's more functional."

"You will probably see the outer clothing that the officers wear is about the same, some form of cargo trousers, which already some specialist people wear, some more durable underclothing and perhaps a change of headwear - some form of different cap," he said.

"It's getting a balance between something that means you still look like the PSNI but equally something that gets you through because there are sheer comfort factors about wearing the wrong stuff for the modern age."

He added: "Once we've got some samples I'd like to pop them onto Facebook and ask the public's opinion."

Mr Byrne revealed some drawbacks of the current police attire.

"You could speak to officers and they'd tell you that the uniform is uncomfortable, not very durable, and not very practical for the demands of modern policing," he said.

The last major alteration to PSNI uniforms was back in 2002 when the transition from the RUC was taking place.

My Byrne said changing the current uniform is "one example of showing staff we care about their operational well-being".

He added: "I want to be able to hold the mirror up to myself during my time in policing around three main principles - we care, we listen and we act - and that applies to the staff, the public and to our partners, and therefore uniform, if we can change it."

When I noted that he's definitely here to make his mark, Mr Byrne replied quite simply: "I'm here to do a good job."

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