Detectives have been told to dress more smartly so they ‘look the part’ while on duty as part of a major new scheme to increase the visibility of police officers in South Yorkshire.
Police chiefs have asked investigators to be ‘properly suited up’ at work, while dozens of plain-clothes officers will be returned to uniform so they can be easily recognised as bobbies.
The aim is to increase the visibility of police officers in a bid to increase confidence in the force and its staffing levels.
Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright has made ‘increasing visible policing’ one of his three priorities and 70 unmarked police vehicles are to be being given South Yorkshire Police crests, meaning 500 of the force’s 750-strong fleet will now be marked up to make officers more visible to the public.
The force also plans to put signs on its buildings.
But the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said attempts to make the police more visible would only ‘paper over the cracks’ left by reduced resources.
Neil Bowles, of South Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “South Yorkshire Police has lost nearly 500 officer posts in the last six years – that could be the main reason for less visibility.
“I have no issues with new signage...but will that make the public want to visit them to report their concerns, only to be disappointed as there will not be any more enquiry desks?”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Martyn Bates, who is leading the visibility project, said detectives would be told that ‘rather than dress down, it will be a case of them looking the part, being properly suited up with proper identification’.
He said: “It is a case of trying to reinforce the fact they are part of a professional organisation. It is about displaying their warrant badge and the fact they are a police officer.
“Nobody is saying detectives turn up to work looking a real mess. It is just making sure they are displaying their warrant cards when they go out of the building and that they are smart.”
Plans also include a more visible role for civilian police staff normally in back-office roles.
Many will be given fluorescent police jackets and become a ‘point of contact’ at community events or crime scenes, although it will be made clear they are not warranted officers.
Commissioner Wright said: “I want to ensure the highest visibility for the police in South Yorkshire, and one way of ensuring this is to make use of those existing resources that aren’t being used. There are also 87 police-owned buildings in South Yorkshire that can potentially provide an excellent platform for messages from the police to their communities.”
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