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EDITIONS
Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Helpers' uniform 'too like police'
Community support officers
The uniforms will be tested in "operational situations"
The uniform designed for new police helpers is likely to be changed because it makes them look too much like real police officers.

On the day the uniform was unveiled, police officers said the public would have difficulty telling the difference between them and the new Community Support Officers (CSOs).

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said he would look at whether their blue and white chequered hat bands were too similar to those worn by constables.

The introduction of CSOs has been a controversial decision with officers voicing concern about the powers given to them.

Dice cap

The CSOs will wear uniforms similar to traffic wardens with peaked caps which bear the blue and white band and a blue badge saying Police Community Support Officer.

After his first view of the uniforms Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Glen Smyth said the CSOs would look too much like PCs.


We will test it in operational situations to make sure there is a distinction

Sir John Stevens
"Members of the public might think at first glance that they are police officers, and that's not fair on them and it's not fair on the public."

The CSOs also had waterproof jackets the same as police officers which could lead to confusion, he said.

Sir John said: "There has been some discussion about the dice cap to see whether it looks too much like a police officer.

Terrorist incidents

"We will test it in operational situations to make sure there is a distinction between a police officer, who has full powers, and support officers who have limited powers."

The Metropolitan Police wants to have 300 CSOs in place by September and 500 by next April.

However, they will have no powers until Home Secretary' David Blunkett's Police Reform Bill becomes law and that is not expected until next year.

Then they could be given powers to detain suspects for up to 30 minutes, give fixed penalties for dog fouling, drunkenness and litter louting, remove abandoned vehicles and enforce cordons around suspected terrorist incidents.


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07 May 02 | UK Politics
05 Dec 01 | UK Politics
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