A police force has introduced a gender neutral option in headwear for its staff.

In May, Hertfordshire Constabulary announced a patrol flat cap as an alternative option for male and female officers, and Police Community Support Officers.

The change, which will break a 33-year tradition, was suggested to senior officers by the Herts Police LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Network, meaning female officers will no longer have to wear the bowler hat.

Since women began joining the police service at the beginning of the 20th century there has been a difference in the uniform and headgear worn by male and female officers.

As time went on the uniforms became largely indistinguishable, apart from the bowler hat which was introduced in 1985.

Male police officers have continued to wear the traditional custodian helmet since 1860’s, or a patrol flat cap.

The Herts Police LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Network recognised police headgear was the last item of uniform that remained gender specific.

Female officers who would prefer to wear the patrol flat cap can do so for the majority of their duties, except for public order events for health and safety reasons.

Deputy chief constable, Michelle Dunn, said: “Providing an inclusive work environment for officers and staff is very important to the Constabulary.  

“After the subject was brought to our attention we reflected on our current dress code and decided it did indeed need updating.

“Every staff member and officer should feel they have the right to be their authentic selves in the workplace and we are delighted to be making this change in Hertfordshire.”

David Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “I welcome the additional choice for our officers in the uniform they wear.

“We must ensure police officers and staff represent the whole community and having neutral headwear is more inclusive to all parts of society.”