Police officers across Northamptonshire will begin wearing baseball cap-style protective headgear from today.
The Force has begun issuing the so-called “Bump Caps” – essentially baseball caps with a reinforced internal frame – which will completely replace the more traditional Custodian and Bowler hats by June 9.
They would become the third Force in the UK to adopt the new headgear following successful launches in Cheshire and Lancashire although the caps are currently used by a very small number of specialist units within Northamptonshire Police.
The caps are rated as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are, by their nature, lighter and more comfortable than the headgear currently worn by police officers and PCSOs.
In addition, they are significantly cheaper than traditional hats and the initial expenditure has been made from the uniform underspend for the latest financial year.
The decision to adopt new headgear is just the latest in a succession of key improvements to police uniforms and personal protective equipment which have been implemented over the past two decades.
Not only will the new bump caps offer a better level of protection, the new headgear means that no longer will male and female officers be issued different headgear with varying safety ratings simply on the basis of gender.
Research showed the most popular headgear among male officers was the flat cap, but it offers no protection while the traditional custodian helmet is impractical for most duties and is only fully protective when the chin strap is used.
This is also the case for the traditional bowler hat for female officers.
Further engagement has also shown that having to choose gender-based headgear is a barrier to the non-binary transgender community joining the police service. By introducing this new hat we provide a single protective hat to all police officers, Special Constables and PCSOs for general duties.
In line with other public bodies, including the Army, the existing headgear can remain with officers where issued and will be used – as tunics are currently – for ceremonial purposes.
The Force’s Uniform Advisory Group (UAG) have engaged with staff associations and groups to ensure this is a successful introduction with the whole changeover being reviewed in 12 months time.
Chief Constable Simon Edens said: “This is a very significant change for the Force and I welcome it wholeheartedly. Our officers and PCSOs are well equipped for 21st Century policing but now the introduction of this new headgear will better protect them as they protect people from harm.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold also welcomed the move.
He said: “My role is to ensure the Force has the appropriate funding and equipment to perform at its best and make Northamptonshire safer. I think this is absolutely the right time to update and provide this new, fit for purpose headgear.”