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Outrage over new uniform policy forcing federal police officers to completely cover visible tattoos 

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Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers could soon be forced to wear gloves all day if the government’s planned new uniform policy is approved.

The new policy demands officers cover up any visible tattoos, and although it was originally only meant to apply to officers in uniform, it now also includes those who wear AFP insignia, including lanyards.

Angela Smith, president of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA), told Daily Mail Australia that there was no consultation period with AFP staff prior to the adoption of the new policy.

Instead, employees were simply sent an email stating that the policy would be effective as of September 1 this year.

The AFP’s previous policy stated that staff members could have tattoos, providing they were not deemed offensive, and were not located on the hand, scalp, ears or neck.

‘It was very much a common-sense approach,’ Smith said. 

But now, Smith has questioned what those with tattoos that are harder to conceal are supposed to do.

‘What about the females that have a small tattoo behind their ear or the members with tattoos on their hands, surely they can’t require to wear gloves all day?’ she said.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, an AFP spokesman said staff could choose how to cover up their visible tattoos as long as it did not interfere with their ability to perform their role.

‘Common sense will prevail in the application of this policy and exemptions considered on a case-by-case basis,’ the spokesman said.

The change of policy is said to have come as part of the government’s attempt to ensure a ‘consistent law enforcement approach across the Home Affairs portfolio’.

‘[The Home Affairs secretary] had a view that all members should be made to cover up,’ Smith said.

However, an AFPA statement earlier this week said that ‘justification for the policy change has not been clarified’.

The statement claimed that the AFPA does not support the change and said that it was another example of the AFP deliberately seeking out committed and intelligent employees, ‘then treating them like fools’.

‘The amount of feedback received by the AFPA in relation to this issue has been extraordinary and highlights to us the depth of feeling among members about what is for many a very personal change,’ Smith said.

‘A significant portion of feedback has been from members without tattoos who remain concerned about the nature of the change and the circumstances in which it was imposed.’

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has also had the same policy imposed, but is allegedly reviewing feedback from employees.

Their updated tattoo policy is expected to be included in wider changes to ABF uniform policy due for release next month. 

 

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