Why are Scottish police officers no longer allowed to have beards?

Why are Scottish police officers no longer allowed to have beards?
Doctor claims that beards have several health benefits

If you fancy being a police officer in Scotland you might have to make some difficult decisions about your appearance.

Why? Because Scottish police have been ordered to shave off their beards.

The BBC reports Scotland Police, the UK's second biggest force after the Met, is introducing the policy by the end of the month so that officers and staff could wear protective FFP3 masks which require users to be clean-shaven.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: "The safety of our officers and staff is a priority and the policy around the use of respiratory equipment is being implemented to protect those on the frontline.

"Significant learning from the Covid pandemic identified that the FFP3 mask - which is face-fitted and requires users to be clean shaven - offers the most appropriate and effective respiratory protection to officers and staff.

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"The respiratory protective equipment policy mandates that, where it can be reasonably foreseen that an officer or member of staff will use an FFP3 mask in the course of their duties, they should be clean-shaven."

Police Scotland has about 17,000 officers and 6,000 staff. That is a lot of potential hair clogging up the sinks of Edinburgh, Glasgow and more.

But the beards are not being shaved off without a fight. The Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, confirmed to Sky News that four workers were pursuing employment tribunal cases over the policy.

Chair David Hamilton told the broadcaster: "The SPF has been inundated with officers' complaints.

"The Health and Safety Executive guidance is that a RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) policy should only be utilised as a last resort and there have been relevant questions raised as to why this policy is now being proposed.

"There are serious concerns in relation to the proposed implementation of the policy and its proportionality to risk.

"We are currently supporting several members who have lodged employment tribunal cases relating to the policy and have sought legal opinion relating to health and safety, discrimination and human rights."

Meanwhile, Andy George, President of the National Black Police Association in the UK, called the policy "a little bit over the top".

Other social media users similarily raised their eyebrows:

Police Scotland is not the only force to have rules about just how hairy their officers can be.

The Met's most-recent facial hair policy from September 2022 states beards and moustaches are allowed for London officers.

But it says "they mustn't look unkempt. Keep them trimmed and smart."

Police Scotland has insisted there will be exemptions to the ban including for religious, cultural, disability or medical reasons.

Nevertheless, we're sure razor companies are rubbing their hands with glee right now.

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