The iconic British bobby’s helmet. Soon to be obsolete?
The traditional police helmet has been worn by British bobbies on the beat since 1862. It has become an icon of the British way of life.
Generally, it was only worn by policeman who were patrolling on foot.
For many years officers have also been issued with a police cap – far more suitable for wearing in patrol cars and soon.
But gradually, various forces throughout the England and Wales are deciding to stop using the traditional helmet. Each force can make its own decision.
West Yorkshire Police is the latest force to announce that they are phasing out the use of the old-style helmet. These are normally referred to as ‘custodian helmets’ and although they have been used in other parts of the world, seem to be quintessentially English.
The majority of police personnel agree.
Old timers though retain a fondness for the older style, saying that it is very practical. Today they are made from a strong fortified plastic material that protects the head. The prominent badge and the height gives the wearer authority. They even say that it is perfect in cold weather because it is insulated and provides warmth – especially important for bobbies on the beat who spend hours outdoors patrolling the streets.
The height also makes policemen (women have always worn caps or small ‘bowler-style’ hats) stand out in a crowd enabling them to be located in emergencies or, if you’re a villain, to alert you to nearby police presence.
The traditional helmets will still be used on ceremonial occasions. It’s probably a sign that I’m getting old, but I do think it’s a shame that these iconic English symbols will no longer be seen on our streets on a daily basis.
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