NSW Police Uniform

Evolution of NSW Police Uniform

by Manish Singh

Ever since the Police Association of New South Wales was formed, the police uniforms and police gear have changed in several ways. Back in the 1920s, all policemen did not wear the same uniform pattern. A special serge blue wool was imported from England to create the uniforms. Still, when the shortage of this material occurred, the law enforcement officers were offered a combination of green and blue uniforms. Along with this came a pair of boots, a hideous raincoat, and a pair of leggings that looked quite odd.

The standard police uniforms were made of serge woollen. Pants were in blue, the coat had a tight collar with two pockets in the front, a full sleeves shirt, and a navy blue tie to complete the attire. The officers had a major complaint with the tan boots. They pointed out that the boots fell apart when they came in contact with water.

Many suggestions came in for enhancing the quality and comfort of the attire, but due to financial constraints, there were restrictions that they couldn’t manage to overcome.

The beginning of the evolution

In 1934, while attending the 13th annual conference, Commissioner W H Childs made an announcement. He said that for the very first time, all policemen would be provided with blue serge uniforms and a pair of boots with leather soles. The force was asked to wear the same uniform all seasons, which became a cause of their discomfort. Soon enough, the new suggestion came in for changing the material of the uniform.

The motion for a lighter uniform was passed in 1937 by PANSW. However, it got rejected, and the force was disappointed for a very long time. When World War II took place, it escalated the issue as policemen confronted that they felt uncomfortable wearing a woollen uniform in summer.

The association was determined to get a new summer model of the uniform, which later got approval and also worked in benefit of the police force. The police braces got replaced by black leather belts.

Fixing the burning issue

A piece of news along with the headline “Are police shirts dangerous to wear near fires?” and an image showing a burnt police shirt became a sensation. It immediately triggered the association to notify the Commissioner about the highly flammable uniform fabric.

After this incident, the next evolution in police uniforms took place in 1972. A new half-sleeve police shirt with the badge got introduced, and the blue serge got replaced by navy gabardine.

The modern era of police uniforms

Over the years, the community has thought about various changes, some have agreed, and some have discarded. The modern changes that have been accepted and are keeping consideration of safety and comfort. Today, the PANSW uniform has added a holster, backpacks, fire-resistant gear, sunglasses, rain suits, belts and prevention from inhaling toxic fumes. The latest attire for a police uniform is a pair of cargo pants, a half-sleeved shirt, a cap, GP style shoes, leather belts and a lightly armoured vest.

The Commissioner of police and association continues to make notes of small and big suggestions for improvement of police uniform and police gear every now and then. A fun fact, that now tactical gear/ military gear or police gear are not restricted to the forces. Evolution has also developed a great liking for tactical gear amongst the civilians as well. So, before you purchase a product, make sure you check out the reviews and learn about its qualities.

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