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Bobbies with long beards to shave or wear a net in UK county

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Bearded bobbies in Gloucestershire will have to shave or wear a beard net under new rules issued by the British county police chief.

Female officers have also been urged to wear less make- up, while visible tattoos have to be hidden with a plaster under the regulations.

Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Suzette Davenport believes that officers will appear more professional to the public if their beards are tamed.

Gloucestershire police say their new rules will apply to long "ZZ Top-style" beards that can be pulled or tugged.

Rank-and-file officers are bristling with anger over new uniform rules that will require them to wear a beard net or shave off their facial hair, The Times reported.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, said: "Police officers have got to look professional and smart on duty, but there is a difference between a trimmed goatee and a full Father Christmas ZZ Top beard. People need to be sensible.

"They can be used as a weapon, for someone to grab. But a beard net? Chief Constables shouldn't be looking at such draconian measures," White was quoted as saying by The Sun.

There are also concerns that the net requirement would offend Muslim officers who wear a long beard as part of their religion, or officers who cannot shave due to allergies.

Forces in UK have different grooming policies - Greater Manchester Police banned designer stubble in 2011. But the Metropolitan Police in London are happy for their officers to patrol with facial hair.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said it placed importance on its officers and staff "presenting a professional appearance and being smart".

He said: "We consider it plays a significant part in maintaining and enhancing public confidence in policing. The policy is intended to provide guidance to managers and staff.

First Published: Sun, July 26 2015. 19:22 IST