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Police chiefs sanction baseball caps on patrol before launch of unisex hats

Armed Police wear unisex baseball caps.
Armed Police wear unisex baseball caps.

Police Scotland officers have been given the go-ahead to wear baseball caps as part of measures to make their uniforms gender-neutral.

Until now the reinforced caps have been worn by specialist ­officers, such as the firearms unit, dog ­handlers and search teams.

But now all officers can choose to wear them as a non-gendered option instead of the traditional police headwear.

Police Scotland is keen to raise awareness of the new policy on hats to make sure members of the public don’t mistake officers on routine patrols for specialist squads.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “Where an officer would prefer not to wear a gender specific hat, it is right they have that option.

“Members of the public may already be familiar with these caps, as many specialists have worn them for several years. Depending on demand for these hats, the public may notice some officers on regular duty wearing them.

“They are clearly marked as police uniform and we have taken the opportunity to remind our people of the importance of wearing their hat to identify themselves as police officers.”

Permission for all officers to wear baseball caps has been granted as an interim measure while the force considers a unisex hat design.

The current standard-issue hats have different designs for men and women, but Police Scotland is now keen to make sure the uniform is inclusive.

Several forces in England have already introduced caps or ­gender-neutral hats as a way of standardising the police uniform for male and female officers. Gender-neutral baseball caps were introduced by Northamptonshire Police last year in a bid to make the force more inclusive for transgender and non-binary people.

But they have since been phased out by the force’s new Chief Constable as they “do not project the right image”.

It is not yet known how many officers north of the border will choose to wear the caps.

Officers who prefer their old hats can continue to wear them.

Traditionally, the uniform for women has included a bowler-style hat, and it is the only part of the uniform that is still gender-specific. Male officers usually wear a peaked hat.

The first woman police officer in Scotland joined the force in September 1915 but she was classed as a “lady assistant”. Three years later, the first uniformed female officer was recruited in Dundee.

Skirts started to be phased out as a compulsory part of the female ­uniform in the 1980s.