The traditional domed policeman's hat is set to be removed from the beat in Northamptonshire from today - as the force begins drafting in new baseball-cap styled protective headgear.
Northamptonshire Police has begun issuing the so-called “bump caps” – essentially baseball caps with a reinforced internal frame – which will completely replace the more traditional Custodian and Bowler hats by June 9.
They would become the third Force in the UK to adopt the new headgear following launches in Cheshire and Lancashire although the caps are currently used by a very small number of specialist units within Northamptonshire Police.
The force says the new headwear is lighter and more comfortable than that currently worn by police officers and PCSOs.
In addition, they are significantly cheaper than traditional hats.
Chief Constable Simon Edens said: “This is a very significant change for the force and I welcome it wholeheartedly. Our officers and PCSOs are well equipped for 21st Century policing but now the introduction of this new headgear will better protect them as they protect people from harm.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold also welcomed the move.
He said: “My role is to ensure the force has the appropriate funding and equipment to perform at its best and make Northamptonshire safer. I think this is absolutely the right time to update and provide this new, fit for purpose headgear.”
The decision to adopt new headgear is just the latest in a succession of changes to police uniforms over the past two decades.
It also means male and female officers will no longer be issued different headgear with varying safety ratings on the basis of gender.
Research showed the most popular headgear among male officers was the flat cap, but it offers no protection. The traditional custodian helmet is "impractical for most duties", a force spokesman added, and is only fully protective when the chin strap is used.
This is also the case for the traditional bowler hat for female officers.
The existing headgear can remain with officers where issued and will be used - as tunics are currently - for ceremonial purposes.