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CC Simon Cole Blog: Uniform that's uniform! February 2017

10 Feb 2017

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I was very proud of my first uniform. Blue shirt, wooden truncheon, long mac, and floppy cuffs, as well as a tunic. I also got given cleaning tokens, although there never seemed to be enough to deal with the day to day experiences of policing Birmingham!

I am still immensely proud of my uniform. Black shirt (and some white ones too), baton, fluorescent jacket, solid cuffs, captor spray, body armour and first aid kit. No need for cleaning tokens, as the uniform issued is machine washable.

That pride motivated me to get involved in, and Chair on behalf of the NPCC, the National Uniform Workstream being progressed as part of the Collaborative Law Enforcement Procurement Programme (CLEP). CLEP aims to ensure that we standardise and aggregate purchasing across a variety of areas including fleet, language services and IT; the programme has been agreed by all PCCs and Chiefs.

The CLEP uniform workstream seeks to ensure that we all get good quality uniform, standard in design, and procured collaboratively. Already great strides have been made with 34 Forces using the same shirts, and 26 the same trousers, with others planning to migrate to them. The common sense approach has allowed us to identify the most commonly used pieces of core patrol uniform and we have now started to follow the same logic for specialist roles such as  motorcyclists, traffic and firearms.  Whilst this is moving forward we are also looking at how we can better improve our uniforms by the use modern technologies available to us. The nationally constituted steering group and specialist groups include representatives of each region, specialists, the Police Federation and Unions. They are seeking to identify specifications for all kit that can then be purchased nationally.

As the changes in what has been issued across my career show, we cannot stand still. Uniform needs to evolve and develop to be fit for purpose. It needs to accommodate body worn video now, with more future technological capabilities ahead. We need to understand the whole cost of what we do. Running stores, officer and staff travel time to pick up items and time spent in numerous uniform committees all have a cost in time and money.

Analysing that cost has seen the Met lead the way onto the National Uniform Managed Service (NUMS). A competitive process has identified DHL as their supplier. NUMS features an end to end service, with items ordered on line delivered, like the other on line deliveries of daily life, all across London. Lots of other forces are exploring this approach, with the likelihood of the Met being joined by others very soon.

For PCCs and Chiefs there is an opportunity to ensure a decent whole service providing uniform, at a collaboratively procured price. That uniform will actually be, well, uniform!