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First National Survey on Police Uniform and Equipment Launched

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Police officers and staff across England and Wales are to be asked about their experiences of wearing their standard issue uniforms and equipment as part of a new national survey.

Launched on July 1st by researchers at Lancaster University in partnership with the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), and the National Uniform Portfolio as part of the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), the first ever national police uniform and equipment survey will be distributed to 200,000 police officers and staff.

The survey aims to reveal a comprehensive picture about the day to day experiences of police officers and staff to highlight any key uniform and equipment issues and where improvements need to be made.

“This is an exciting opportunity for uniform-wearers to have their voices heard and directly impact change to uniform policies,” said Dr Camilla De Camargo, a lecturer and policing researcher from Lancaster University and lead researcher behind the survey.

“With voluntary resignations in policing across England and Wales at an all-time high, it is vital for police forces to increase staff retention through prioritising well-being and inclusive practices,” she said.

Evidence of poor workwear designs is widespread across various emergency service occupations and has highlighted the serious medical implications of overlooking problems personal protective equipment and clothing, particularly for women.

Dr De Camargo explored ill-fitting and uncomfortable uniforms in her doctoral thesis, and found police uniforms were originally tailored by men, for men and designed for masculine body shapes.

In 2023, Dr De Camargo developed ‘When the Uniform Doesn’t Fit’, a project examining the significant and dangerous impacts of poorly fitted police uniforms on performance, health and safety, morale, and psychosocial well-being.

She said: “After conducting women-only focus groups in five police forces, my initial results revealed issues with all parts of the uniform for women, particularly trousers and stab vests.”

The research also identified short- and long-term medical implications for women, including the worsening of disabilities, chronic health conditions and mental health challenges.

Subsequent evidence shows that current standard issue uniforms are not fit for men either, with male police offers experiencing physical issues caused by ill-fitting or the design of their uniforms.

The survey is informed by Dr De Camargo’s previous work and has had input from and has been supported by the Home Office, The Open University, UNISON, the Superintendent’s Association, and Blue Light Commercial.

Results from the survey will be used to inform future national decision-making about uniform design, usability, and safety for all officers and staff.

The survey will run for six weeks with results being published later this year.

The survey project has received support from the Joy Welch Fund.
Police uniform survey logo

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