UK

Police row over chief inspector's memorial day uniform

Tom Winsor
Image caption Tom Winsor is a lawyer and former rail regulator

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales is being criticised for wearing a uniform similar to a chief police officer's, despite being a civilian.

Tom Winsor wore ceremonial dress at the National Police Memorial Day Service in Cardiff on Saturday.

Petitions call for Mr Winsor to be "reprimanded" for his "inappropriate" outfit.

He said it "not a police uniform" and he had been "showing respect".

The former lawyer and rail regulator was responsible for the most radical review of police pay and conditions for more than 30 years, published in March 2012.

His recommendations, which include cutting salaries and direct entry into higher force ranks without police experience, have proved unpopular with the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers.

'Distress'

Mr Winsor wore a ceremonial uniform designed specifically for the Chief Inspector to the memorial service, which was also attended by Prince Charles.

According to the inspectorate's website, "uniforms associated with the role of Inspectors of Constabulary are not police uniforms (although they look similar)".

But one government e-petition calls for him to be "properly and publicly censured by Parliament & [the] Home Office for his grossly offensive behaviour at the National Police Memorial Service in wearing a self-styled 'uniform' that mimics that of a Chief Police Officer".

It says the clothing "caused distress and outrage amongst serving and retired officers, their families, and the families and loved ones of officers who gave their lives in the course of their duty".

A second petition, which has more than 7,000 signatures, says officers are "entitled to wear official uniform, ceremonial or otherwise, because they have been so sworn and have served Her Majesty in their respective roles".

"[Mr Winsor], being politically appointed, has never served in such a capacity as a sworn officer and should not be permitted to wear any uniform at formal or public events, even a ceremonial one."

Responding to the criticism, Mr Winsor told the Police Oracle: "There are significant differences between what I am wearing and what others are wearing. The uniform of HM Chief Inspector is not a police uniform."

The government has been criticised for choosing to appoint Mr Winsor despite his lack of police experience.

He himself has said he does "not regard it as a material disadvantage", while Policing Minister Nick Herbert has said the number one qualification for the role should be to be "fiercely independent".

Police Federation chairman Steve Williams said: "We will not be drawn into a debate about what someone was wearing on such an important day of remembrance.

"This day is for the families, friends, colleagues and the wider public to pay their respects to those who tragically lost their lives protecting their community. We must pay attention to what is really important."

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