Cheshire Police are introducing controversial American-style baseball caps for frontline officers in place of traditional flat caps.
The Daily Mail has previously compared the caps to those worn by US armed police officers or SWAT teams.
North Wales Police introduced similar caps a few years ago but ditched them when many people, including Clwyd West MP David Jones, claimed the caps looked unprofessional.
However, Cheshire Police says surveys show the majority of the public and officers approve of the new style headgear which look like baseball caps but are called hard caps because of the extra protection offered.
Cheshire Police will issue the unisex caps to the majority of frontline officers – including sergeants, constables, inspectors and chief inspectors. They replace traditional flat caps, with the old fashioned ‘custodian’ helmets reserved for ceremonial purposes.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “I want Cheshire officers to be equipped with the most appropriate uniform to carry out their jobs safely and effectively. Following internal and external consultations we’re introducing hard caps for most frontline police officers. This is a positive step for the force and great news for those working on the frontline.
“The caps are light but very rugged. Their size means that officers can comfortably get in and out of vehicles without having to remove them, and their modern ventilation and lightness means they’re comfortable to wear all year-round. Feedback from our officers was positive.”
A proposal for the new headgear was first put forward in summer 2014 Since then, much work has gone on behind the scenes testing out the new caps to see how they work on the frontline – and surveying the public to get their thoughts on the new look.
Feedback from both was analysed and this helped to shape the final decision.
Northwich and Chester Local Policing Units have been trialling the hard caps for more than six months now. Officers were asked to complete a survey on what they thought of the hats in terms of practicality and professional image and whether they think the caps should become a standard part of the uniform.
Almost 65% of officers said the hard caps were practical, 70% said they had worn the hard cap more than their previous hat and almost 90% said they should become a standard part of the uniform.
Externally, the public was consulted via social media. Out of 125 responses, the majority were positive with 72% agreeing the new hard caps would be more practical for police officers and 61% saying they would not interfere with the force’s professional image.
Cheshire is believed to be the only police force in the UK equipped with hard caps.