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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Police reject tattooed applicant
Tattoo parlour
The force says it would consider applicants with "innocuous" tattoos
An ex-paratrooper has been rejected from the police because of his tattoos.

Simon Dixon, 28, from Thame in Oxfordshire, had passed all his exams and physical tests for Thames Valley Police but was then told his tattoos were unacceptable.

He has three on his upper arms: one of a skeleton waving a Union Jack, one of a dog and one of a mouse sitting on a toadstool smoking a hubble bubble pipe.

A spokesman for Thames Valley said any tattoos that could imply racism, sexism or religious prejudice would not be appropriate for a police officer.

When I heard he had been rejected I was aghast - Simon would make a damn good police officer
Nigel Champken-Woods, local councillor

Mr Dixon's MP, Boris Johnson, raised the case in the House of Commons on Monday, asking for an explanation from Home Office minister Caroline Flint.

Mr Johnson said: "What can you do to rectify this senseless rejection?"

Mr Dixon's mother-in-law Janice Ingram, also from Thame, said: "He was really up for joining the police and thought he had done enough.

"Then he was told he was not suitable and it's just not right. He was devastated."

'Damn good'

Thame town councillor, Nigel Champken-Woods, a family friend who provided a reference for Mr Dixon, said candidates should not be judged on their appearance.

He said: "When I heard he had been rejected I was aghast. Simon would make a damn good police officer who had passed all the exams and physicals."

Paul Anthem, a spokesman for Thames Valley Police, said: "Thames Valley Police would not see as acceptable any tattoos that could have an implication of racism, sexism or religious prejudice.

"Whether that is visible or not, it would be unacceptable on someone who would be representing the force.

"We would apply a common sense approach to anyone with an innocuous tattoo."

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