8 October 2021
During BackCare Awareness Week (4 – 8 October 2021), we are looking at factors which impact on our members’ ability to carry out duties. Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable Simon Cole, the NPCC lead for Uniform, brings us up to date with the latest work being done nationally to help to ensure the health and safety of colleagues.
“I would like to take this opportunity to update colleagues on the work which is ongoing to ensure that what you wear is the best it can be.
“And with this being BackCare Awareness Week, it is the ideal time to remind colleagues that wearing and looking after your uniform in the right way can help you, and your back, stay healthy.
“I chair the National Uniform Strategic Board (NUSB) on your behalf, which sets the strategic direction for the National Uniform Working Group (NUWG) - led by Detective Chief Superintendent Nikki Mayo of Lincolnshire Police.
“The NUWG is made up of a variety of key stakeholders, including PFEW, National Occupation Health, the Home Office, and a variety of Force representatives. Feeding into the NUWG is the National Body Armour Sub-Group (NBASG), led by Chief Superintendent Roy Smith.
“Ongoing work includes the development of faith-based headwear, AFO uniform, motorcyclist uniform, Mounted Section uniform, and gender-neutral head and neck wear.
“Your Force can also get involved with the Future Uniform Project, where the Home Office Science Commissioning Hub (HOC) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) - supported by NUSB and NUWG members - arrange and facilitate workshops.
“This are done to establish a comprehensive understanding of potential future uniform requirements from which a long-term research, development and procurement strategy can be considered.
“One of the biggest pieces of work ongoing in the world of uniform is the procurement process for the next generation of body armour, which concluded with a contract awarded to two suppliers. As well as taking the views into account of Officers and staff via a national survey, we ran an extensive ‘Human Factors Assessment Framework’ trial.
“In simple terms this meant we got frontline colleagues from a range of Forces (and partner agencies like UKBA) to test the armour in an operational setting. This saw people chasing ‘criminals’, jumping over walls, riding horses, searching vehicles, firing Taser and much more.
“The feedback from colleagues was key to our decision-making process – and hopefully dispels any myths we simply procure from the cheapest supplier. We are doing our best to ensure body armour provides the best protection, whilst being comfortable and minimising any adverse health impact.
“However, it’s equally key for colleagues to take care of the armour, check it fits properly, and to take if off regularly, when in a safe environment like a police station. This reduces strain, and ensures equipment is hung properly so it evenly distributed. It is also important colleagues maintain a level of personal fitness to support the demands of 24/7 policing.”
“If your Force is not currently represented on the NUWG, the NBASG or the Future Uniform Project, then I encourage them to get involved. Your feedback can help shape our work.”
Please contact the below for more info:
NBASG - Natalie.Wyatt@met.police.uk