Women PCs get shapely armour

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The Independent Online
FORGET THE flak jacket. Women police officers are to be equipped with shapely, moulded body armour - such as that worn by comic-book super heroes - in a drive to make the police uniform more female friendly.

A special police "body-armour" committee has drawn up plans for new protective clothing with built-in curves to fit around women's busts and hips to protect them from bullets and blows.

Female officers have often complained that their bullet-proof vests, originally designed for men, are heavy, cumbersome and uncomfortable. One officer said the new armour would have a recognisable bust line but "hopefully will not look too much like Madonna's pointy bras".

Bill Hughes, Deputy Chief Constable of Hertfordshire, who is in charge of the uniform redesign, said existing flak jackets were too bulky and heavy.

"The basic problem was that the body armour was moulded to the male torso," he said. "We are looking to create something that is moulded to the female body. We are trying to get body armour that is more covert and comfortable."

The British Fashion Council, which runs London Fashion Week, has offered to help with the overhaul. Chief executive John Wilson said catwalk designs could be adapted.

"If any of the police committees want more advice on body armour we will be happy to put them in touch with designers with experience with this kind of clothing," he said.

"If we are talking about armour-plated clothes, the type of fabric used does have an impact on the sew, and cut and fit.'

The review is part of a complete overhaul of the police uniform. Next month officers from 19 constabularies around England and Wales will trial a modern new uniform, replacing the traditional wool pullover and gaberdine jacket with a black fleece and blouson-style waterproof jacket in a black and white check.

Officers will also test new man-made fibre trousers, specially designed boots and refashioned white shirts.

The bulky police utility belts have been made lighter to lessen the handicap for police who have to chase fleeing suspects.

A separate sub-committee is looking at a new design for a police hat to replace the traditional English bobby's helmet. The design is expected to be a cap.