Police chiefs accused of getting knickers in a twist

Police chiefs were accused of nannying colleagues today after telling them what underwear to put on.

Revised guidelines published by West Midlands Police advised officers and staff to make sure their undergarments are appropriate.

A message to staff read: "Underwear should be of an appropriate colour to be inconspicuous underneath (your) uniform."

It provoked a furious outburst from several officers who questioned why their bosses are getting their knickers in a twist.

One sergeant told Police Review: "We are not a scouting organisation made up of young children who need nannying.

"As we are all adults, personal pride should drive folks to maintain that professional appearance by shaving before going on duty, having clean boots and tidy uniform."

A constable added: "It is ridiculous. They are basically telling us what underwear to wear to work.

"A couple of sergeants have jokingly been saying there would be spot checks. It is outrageous."

The guidelines were part of a wider force "revised uniform, equipment and appearance policy" that followed the introduction of some new items of uniform.

Officers were warned baseball caps should only be worn by officers in certain units, including dog teams and marksmen.

New-style black operational shirts must be worn fully zipped up, or with the zip "no more than 40mm" from the top.

Officers were also told to wear hats and helmets as soon as they get out of vehicles, while those on patrol must always wear stab vests.

All forces have uniform policies, but most appear to have stopped short of issuing diktats on underwear.

Other forces issuing similar underwear guidance include West Mercia, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

The revised guidelines were published just weeks after watchdog Denis O'Connor warned volumes of official rules are impeding police work.

Officers in different forces may soon find themselves wearing similar uniforms after the Government said money could be saved by national procurement.

Writing in a force magazine West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said managers must "challenge" inappropriate dress.

She added: "The adoption of standard, corporate, professional uniform and equipment is crucial to how we are viewed by members of the public."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "There is no new force policy on underwear, but all officers and staff who come into contact with the public are asked to adopt a common sense approach when choosing what underwear is worn when on duty, so they remain smart."

* The revised West Midlands Police uniform policy can be found at: bit.ly/9PenL2