New look for Essex officers

POLICE officers on the streets of Essex are sporting a new look from today (Monday January 9) as the force rolls out its new money-saving shirts.

The current uniform of white shirts and ties has been replaced by a new ‘wicking’ shirt for operational officers. The shirts have been introduced as part of a wider review of uniform in order to bring substantial savings to the force.

In the two years from 2009/10 to 2010/11, Essex Police spent an average of �51,500 per year on replacement white shirts and ties, costing �103,000. During the current year, the force has restricted the numbers that have been replaced.

The new wicking shirts will cost �84,800 to introduce to the force and are expected to last an average of two years. The combination of fewer shirts issued and lower prices will save the force approximately �18,200 over the next two years

Assistant chief constable Maurice Mason said: “The new shirts have been selected with officers’ comfort, as well as cost-efficiency, in mind.

“The role of a police officer is demanding and often dangerous so it’s vital that officers have a uniform that is fit for purpose. The new shirts are durable, tough and comfortable. They will also offer better value for money.

“The force has to save �41m by 2014/15 so we have had to make some extremely difficult financial decisions about which areas we streamline without compromising the safety of the public or our officers. Reviewing our uniform budget is just one of the ways we have done this.”

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The new shirts will also make sergeants more visible to the public and their colleagues by displaying the sergeant chevron on the arm.

“Sergeants lead our teams on the ground and are a central part of the way we interact with our communities,” explained Mr Mason.

“We want to improve the visibility of sergeants in force and out on the streets of Essex. The new shirts will therefore allow sergeants to wear their epaulettes on their sleeve so that their rank is clearly visible.”

Officers at chief inspector rank and above will continue to wear the white shirt and tie, as will operational officers at ceremonial occasions. White shirts and ties no longer needed will be recycled.

The new wicking shirts will be worn by operational police officers, police community support officers across the county and traffic wardens employed by Essex Police at Stansted Airport.