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HomePolicingPolice Scotland officers to take legal action against beard ban

Police Scotland officers to take legal action against beard ban

The Scottish Police Federation confirmed four workers were pursuing employment tribunal cases against plans to ban beards on the frontline from this month.

The new clean-shaven policy of Police Scotland will come into action in the coming weeks, forcing hundreds of staff to shave off their facial hair.

The force said the move was to comply with face-fitted PPE masks, but that it would undertake a “full consultation with all relevant staff associations ahead of implementation”.

Police Scotland has 16,615 full-time officers, making it the UK’s second biggest forces after London’s Metropolitan Police.

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.

“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.”

David Kennedy, General Secretary to The Scottish Police Federation, said: “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.”

Commenting on the “use of respiratory equipment” justification offered by Police Scotland for the beard ban, Dave Thomas, a former police officer and podcaster, said on LinkedIn: “I go scuba diving down to 35 meters. No issues with having a beard. I know fellow divers who smear Vaseline around their face mask seal if they have any leaks. Beards really aren’t an issue except for Police.”

Andy George, President of the National Black Police Association in the UK, said on Twitter: “Seems a little bit over the top for all frontline officers to have to carry respirators and be clean shaven at all times. Be interesting to see the evidence base for how often they will need to deploy with them.”

(Source: Sky News)

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