Eighty-one per cent of respondents surveyed by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) insisted that a visible tattoo would make no difference to their confidence in the officer.
Further to that, 60 per cent of those surveyed say they believe people with visible tattoos should be allowed to join the police force.
It is far more commonplace for people to have tattoos than it ever was and the comments in the survey reflect the fact that it doesn’t undermine public confidence in the service if officers have ink.
What we need to see now is a sensible approach to officers in the service and to potential candidates who want to join the service, otherwise we are missing out on a huge talent pool.
Policies need to be modern and flexible to ensure the public get the best people delivering their policing, being representative of the communities we serve.
The research – which was two-fold and asked views of officers as well as the public – was undertaken earlier in the year because of the inconsistent way national guidance was being interpreted across the country among forces.
The current national guidance states that officers “should not have tattoos which could cause offence. Tattoos are not acceptable if they are particularly prominent, garish, offensive or undermine the dignity and authority of your role.”
We’re not saying we advocate offensive tattoos, or a full face tattoo, but many people have small tattoos on visible parts of their bodies, such as the neck or hands and the survey explored what the issues were and provided evidence to help shape our thinking and the next steps.
The results also found:
- Nearly 60% of the public who responded said they would feel comfortable in dealing with an officer who has a visible tattoo – slightly higher than they would with doctors or teachers (both 56%)
- 60% felt that people with visible tattoos should be allowed to join the police force
- More than half (55%) of officers felt comfortable or very comfortable working with colleagues with visible tattoos
- 48% of officers surveyed say they have a tattoo, with 17% having a visible tattoo.
- Many officers also reported that tattoos helped them to relate to the public, diffusing situations and that officers should be judged on their work, rather than tattoos.
The research will now contribute to a national working group which is looking at the issue with a view to drafting guidance to help forces achieve a national stance.
Visible tattoos forms part of the uniform and dress code policy which is currently under review within Avon and Somerset and is due to be discussed further on 15th November