No decisions have been made on a new-look PSNI brand, which includes a proposal for a crest without the term "Northern Ireland," police have said.
They also completely dismissed rumours there was an internal style guide advising against the use of "Northern Ireland" in publications or press releases. They said there was no such ban and any suggestion to the contrary was untrue.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne unveiled a proposed new look for the PSNI. Current imagery features the crest including the words Northern Ireland and the phrase "keeping people safe".
In its place would be two new styles. One including the crest with the term Northern Ireland would be used in formal instances such as on stationery, at ceremonial events and on publications.
The other would be the one most seen by the public, under the draft proposals. It features the crest with the outer band mentioning "Northern Ireland" absent and will be used in operational settings such as on uniforms, vehicles, for digital use and on signage.
Both new looks feature the words "Police Service NI".
Simon Byrne said he recognised the proposals had sparked a "mixed reaction".
The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said some were concerned at the removal of "Northern Ireland" in from the crest that will be more frequently seen by the public.
Police have faced criticism that they are changing the crest of the service, something which unlike other forces, is protected in law.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd denied there was a change in the crest.
He told the BBC Stephen Nolan Radio Ulster Show to suggest it had been changed was "unfair" as it was a consultation exercise asking the public for views.
"What we are proposing to do is to modernise the organisation in terms of the fleet, the uniform in response to a desire for our officers to have a more serviceable uniform.
"Any police service uses that time when we are doing new uniform and new vehicles as to how we present that in our overall branding.
"Any of the proposals that I have seen still very firmly have 'NI' with the emphasis being on the police service. I don't think is a bad thing."
He said the public was being asked on a number of proposals and he did not want to pre-judge the outcome of that process. He said he had been in talks regarding officers' shirts and there were practicalities around what could be put on them in terms of branding and the number of letters that could be used.
"We will be asking people across the communities of Northern Ireland what their views are, we will be listening to what they say and we will be trying to consolidate that into our approach as we move forward.
"I think that is responsible and makes sense."
He added: "I don't think it is important to remove [the term Northern Ireland] and the consultation I am sure will have a view on the various types. This is a branding design.
"In fairness, we have not changed anything, we are keen to hear people's views before we make a decision. "
He added: "There hasn't been a decision made to change. We found that trying putting pressing on shirt sleeves etc.. that the number of letters was problematic and this is one suggestion of how we address that. There may be others that come out of the consultation and people should not read any more into that."
He was asked why there was no difficulty in using the words "Northern Ireland" around the crest in the formal branding option.
"Those details will be worked out in the consultation," he added.
The Policing Board said it was briefed on the proposals at a meeting in May. It said there would be no change to the service's crest or name and will receive a report on the consultation exercise and the associated costs. The Police Federation and Justice Minister have also been briefed.
Former PSNI assistant chief constable Alan McQuillan said the name and crest of the PSNI was enshrined in law and that could not be changed without the justice minister setting in process a change to the law.
"The issue of the crest was a very finely negotiated political agreement between the unionist parties then involved and the nationalist parties then involved - essentially the UUP and SDLP," he said.
"It better be careful in changing this in any arbitrary way."
"It think there is a desire to be representative to all people and the argument I think - this is my supposition - is that 'Northern Ireland' is seen by the more republican element in our society as a term they will not use therefore 'NI' can be Northern Ireland or the north or Ireland and therefore it is acceptable to all."
SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said there was "nothing to be frightened of" and the consultation responses would be fully considered.
"I think some people are messing about a bit," she said.
"There is no politicking, PSNI, the crest is enshrined in law."
She said some of the changes were at the request of the public which wanted a more visible police presence. She said they would keep an open mind and said she thought the rebrand was a positive step.
Releasing the draft proposals, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said his ambition was to provide a more "visible, accessible, responsive and community-focused service". He said the visuals would "enhance the name and purpose of Police Service NI".
“Policing is so much more than an acronym – which is why our brand review is focusing on using ‘Police Service NI’ as opposed to ‘PSNI’. Our current brand is simply the crest and we aim to enhance this to better reflect the breadth and depth of what we do and to improve our connection to our communities.
“It is important to highlight that we are not changing the crest or the name of the service as both are representative of the service we deliver and are set in law.
“I look forward to introducing a brand that reflects our connection and continued partnership with all communities in Northern Ireland.”
The consultation process is to run through the summer with a report presented to the Policing Board in the autumn.
A Policing Board spokeswoman added: "The board’s partnership committee was briefed (21 May) on a review of the PSNI Communications and Engagement approach which included plans for a branding refresh for the Service along with changes to improve the functionality of the police uniform.
"The name of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is enshrined in legislation through the Police (NI) Act 2000. There will be no change to the legislative name of the PSNI or the Service Crest which was agreed by the board in 2001.
"The rebranding plans being proposed by PSNI were noted by the Board in advance of a full public consultation on the proposals and changes being suggested. The board will receive a full report back on the consultation exercise along with the full costs associated with any future change.”