In the age of social media, a police officer has found himself thrust into the spotlight on X, formerly known as Twitter, after showcasing an unconventional hairstyle during an appearance on the popular television show “24 Hours in Police Custody.”

The officer’s distinct Mohican has triggered a widespread online debate, raising questions about the standards of appearance within the British policing community.

Viewers expressed shock and surprise at the officer’s hairstyle, prompting a diverse range of opinions on the role of personal appearance in the law enforcement profession.

While some argued that an officer’s attire or hairstyle should not be a determining factor in their ability to carry out their duties effectively, others disagreed vehemently.

Should a professional setting change things?

This incident has sparked broader reflections on where the boundaries lie when it comes to personal appearance in a professional setting. Kate Palmer, the Employment Services Director at Peninsula, weighed in on the matter, emphasising the importance of considering the need for a dress code in various workplaces.

“Employers might want to implement a dress code which sets out expected standards of dress and appearance that is relative to the degree of professionalism required for their workplace,” Palmer stated. “Reasonable instructions about dress codes will differ from workplace to workplace. Consideration should first, however, be given as to whether a dress code is needed.”

Palmer cautioned against letting personal biases influence decisions regarding appearance standards and urged employers to critically assess whether certain elements, such as a unique hairstyle, genuinely impact an individual’s ability to perform their job.

What about discriminatory practices?

“Some employees might also argue that such requirements go too far, stifling individuality and a person’s ability to be their true selves in the workplace. Recently a Rastafarian army officer won a discrimination claim when he asserted he had been treated less favourably because of his appearance,” Palmer added.

Highlighting the importance of avoiding discriminatory practices, Palmer emphasised the need for clarity in any established dress code. “Whatever dress code you decide on should be clearly outlined in a policy, so all employees are aware of what is and isn’t acceptable,” she concluded.

As the online debate continues to unfold, the incident raises significant questions about the balance between professionalism and individual expression within the law enforcement community. The outcome of this dialogue may well influence future discussions surrounding standardised images for police officers and professionals in other sectors alike.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.