MPS consults on introduction of gender-neutral uniforms
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has launched a consultation on whether to issue officers with gender-neutral uniforms in an effort to better comply with equality laws.
Officers with ‘protected characteristics’, such as those identifying as non-binary and gender fluid, are being asked whether the current uniform provisions meet their needs. At present, uniformed male MPS officers wear helmets or flat caps and ties, while female officers wear bowler hats and cravats.
The 2019 edition of the MPS dress code states: “When on foot patrol, male constables and sergeants must wear the beat duty helmet, and women the bowler. When wearing long-sleeve shirts, women must wear cravats and men must wear black ties.”
Similar reviews are likely to be carried out by forces across the country following an employment tribunal ruling last year, which found that the gender-fluid identity of an automotive engineer was a protected characteristic.
Campaigners say that police chiefs could be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act if they fail to consider the implication of compulsory uniforms for non-binary and gender-fluid officers.
An MPS spokesperson said the consultation was taking place ahead of the signing of a new contract to supply uniforms to the force.
“The Met is proud to have a diverse workforce and has always ensured it adheres to the Equalities Act 2010. Subsequently, its uniforms are designed to cater for officers with protected characteristics, while also being practical and looking professional,” they said.
“The Met’s contract with its current uniform provider is due to expire in 2023. Before agreeing a new contract, the Met is considering what it requires of its uniforms to ensure officers are best able to carry out their job, while continuing to adhere to equality law.
“The Met is seeking the views of police officers and staff who have protected characteristics, including those who identify as non-binary or gender fluid. This important feedback will be taken into consideration.”