Royal Barbados Police Force Uniform Unfit For The Times

Submitted by RUSerious

Within recent times the Police have been unable to recruit suitable candidates to fill the vacancies which presently exist. A number of theories have been posited by various internal and external sources within the society, some of which were low salaries, and unfavourable conditions, terms and benefits of service. As the Administration of the Force seeks to address these perceived issues in collaboration with Government, another aspect that they have often overlooked is the image of the Force.

By image I am referring to the uniform worn by members. Having conducted enquiries of a number of young persons, nearly all were in agreement that they disliked the uniform of the Police and did not wish to wear it. They stated also that since the majority of Police Officers are uniformed Officers having to wear it upon enlisting is unavoidable. A number of persons stated that they have been told by friends within the Force that the uniform is uncomfortable and hot, and that if they joined the Force they would prefer to be in the Task Force.

As the duties of Police have become increasingly challenging, Officers must carry more equipment to deal with varying situations and protect themselves and members of the public. As a result many major Police Forces in the United Kingdom have made certain changes to their duty uniforms to enhance the attractiveness, comfort and capability of the uniform to carry certain equipment.


With these reasons at the forefront of their minds, major Law Enforcement Agencies in the United Kingdom within recent years have either changed or altered their uniforms to adapt to the evolution of Police duties. Agencies such as the major Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London are in the process of designing an all new uniform to be deployed from 2012, in addition to constant alterations made in recent years. Presently the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is in the process of producing new uniforms which were designed in 2010.

Consideration must be given to several factors for the uniform of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Firstly it should have style and flare while remaining its professional appearance. Consideration should be given to an equipment vest which can hold equipment rather than all equipment being placed on the belt, which many police have complained are the main cause of chronic back pain and injury after a number of years. The uniform should be comfortable suit our climate.

In my opinion the uniform does not require significant change in colour, but perhaps the only material of the clothing itself, and the addition of an equipment vest. The MPS solved this issue by adding a stab-proof vest as their equipment vest, which not only afforded their Officer’s more protection but also provided more room to comfortably and safely carry various equipment.

Now some of you out there will say change the uniform? I love it! Keep it. But yeah you aren’t joining the Force and the people who don’t like it, are the ones the Police need and who are not joining. Now you will say well it’s a trivial issue, but when you are required to wear a uniform for more than 8 hours every day, it must be comfortable, and in this day and age it must appeal to your image. Would anyone join the Police if they walked around dressed like super man? No because they would look ridiculous, so the uniform and the image is important. We can hold on to our silly colonial ideals of looking like Captain Farmer in uniform, or we can deploy a contemporary uniform to make the overall package look attractive to young persons. Various people are attracted to the Police for various reasons, but for whatever reason most people choose, they still become good Police Officers.

0 thoughts on “Royal Barbados Police Force Uniform Unfit For The Times

  1. Agree we need uniforms which are practical, the HR arm of the police force in conjunction with the police association should be able to easily resolve. A consequence of the belt is how it destroys the upholstery of a police car.

    On a related note has anyone notice how the Attorney General is starting to change his tune on crime?

  2. Police in the tropics need to wear cool fabrics and must have a choice of shorts.or long pants. We are too caught up in looking overdressed and uncomfortable. The bajan dress psyche is to look important at all costs.

  3. Hopefully, one day the powers that be will realize that this is no longer the 1970s and get with the program. I see Police riding bikes and segways in red stripe pants and uniformed hot grey shirts…

    I see some Police choose to burden their backs with their equipment, handcuffs, radio, gun, baton, and others with empty belts. I have asked some of them sometimes, how come they don’t carry the equipment. They said just like the original poster said, that its to heavy and to wear it for eight hours on foot patrol or other duty is far more detrimental to them. So they rely on their cellular phone to call for help if anything.

    Don’t let’s get started about the hat. Firstly we’ve seen recently that alot of burglaries are/were being committed in the city by people breaking in through the roof. When police are on duty at night with that stupid cap on, it cuts off 50% of their peripheral vision, so unless they are always walking with their head staring straight up into the sky, they cannot catch movement on rooftops by peripheral vision. But who cares if they do not see cat burglars on roofs once they look good when some senior officer passes them, after all the role of the police is to look good not solve cri- oh wait…i got mixed up.

    I agree what they wear must look professional. But they can have a professional uniform, suitable to the climate and equipment. All a matter of fabric and design. Looking online at various sites which make uniforms, I’ve easily seen ideas to enhance to the look of the uniform while keeping its colors…so many things can be done. Just need a team of people.

    A man who works on the ground, a senior person(for posterity lol), a designer etc…hash out a number of designs submit them for approval, and let them members of the force vote on them.

    I just can’t imagine an officer assigned to beach patrol feeling all chirpy and happy having to go to work each morning and ride a bicycle in those hot pants…I’d park it under the shade each day…oh wait yeah that happens already.

    A little comfort and morale goes a long way. Especially when your remuneration is already bad.

  4. I think dress is little part of why recruitment is so low. The main issue will be salary/benefit. There is no benefit of getting a degree since they won’t pay you for it until you get into a higher position. Even then they still just paying you for a position. A uwi graduating going straight into teaching may earn 1.5-2 times the salary of the graduate going into the force. there been salary disparity for them. This then would increase the wage bill something the government can’t do now with getting the wrath of IMF and rating agencies.

  5. Great post. Let’s have a design competition inviting the young fashion designers in our midst to submit designs for the new Police wear. By the way who was it that decided that secondary school boys (1st to 3rd form) should wear white shirts as uniform? Certainly NOT a man!

  6. Many North American cities (and UK cities too, I believe) have bike cops who wear shorts in the warmer months and ride mountain bikes on patrol. In these jurisdictions where biking is a popular hobby, I understand the opportunity to be part of the cycling detail is a sought after assignment, especially by the younger cops who are into working out and maintaining their fitness levels.

    Wonder how it would go over with Bajan cops if they were offered the opportunity to wear shorts and patrol Bridgetown and its suburbs on mountain bikes. I could see how that option might be seen by our local police officers as a step backwards, especially given our 365 day/year mid-day heat and frequent showers in the rainy season. But bicycles or not, if I was a cop, I think I would appreciate the option of being able to wear shorts as part of the day to day, working uniform,

    Is it not somewhat silly to expect our police officers to patrol beaches on foot dressed in their current long pants and heavy, leather shoes? Also, the skirts the female cops have to wear look somewhat ridiculous in this day and age, especially when they are in a parade with male cops. Queen Victoria, doubtless, would approve of the skirts, although she might think, they were way too short, as, goodness gracious, you can see their ankles showing 🙂 .

  7. All very good points, but the most salient point is the fact that our policemen and women are grossly underpaid, and I think, exploited by their employer. Therefore I don’t think that the uniform can be close to the main reason why young men won’t join the force. Having said that, it is quite clearly ridiculous that police on beach patrol should have to wear the regular uniform. Shorts, polo shirts, running shoes and baseball cap should be “de rigeur” for the beach. Then they can at least try and catch those barefoot vagabonds when they’re running away.

  8. @ Stand Up2:
    Excellent ideas!!
    This country has a few people with a wealth of ideas to help restructure the local economy and exploit the talent of the young people who can’t see any opportunities under the present socio-economic structure. But the current crop of myopic decision makers are just twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the economic ship to flounder.

    Here we have a potential gold mine in the form of our sea island cotton which is reputed to be one of the best in the World. Can’t we make some arrangement with Jamaica to produce the fabric and let our local designers and clothing manufactures make school uniforms and other civilian type uniforms (government and private sector workers) from the finished fabric?

  9. We need to put it on facebook design a new uniform competition!
    bearing in mind present police colors and national colors!

  10. What a load of crap implying that the low recruitment in the RBPF could be linked to the uniform. People join discipline organisations for two reasons, (a) they are conscripted and therefore have no choice or (b) they see it as a calling,just like doctors , nurses or priests. I recall the first time I was issued with uniform when I joined the Barbados Regiment,I tried on a shirt and went back to the stores stating that is was too big,whereupon the no -nonsense RSM “Hank” Hinkson reminded me quite crudely that the Regiment does not provide a uniform to fit me, its up to me to fit the uniform. Any person who shies away from joining an organisation because of the cut or quality of the uniform is not really meant for that organisation. I have worn uniforms of all types, some of which were more suited to the harsh conditions of a Siberian winter,moreso than the relatively mild temperatures of the UK and continental theatres that I was posted.
    Funny how we never hear the prisoners at Glendairy / Dodds complaining of the uniforms they are issued, and many keep returning to don them.Up there there are no shortage of recruits.
    The RBPF seems to be attracting more female recruits than male, we are not hearing any complaints from them, and we all know how fashion conscious our women are. This tells a lot about our men,sooner or later the feminism was sure to rub off on them.
    Stop pandering to those who find excuse after excuse not to do something.

  11. The Principal of the Cave Hill campus can earn a bit of money by selling a proposal to the Commissioner of Police involving students enrolled in the Sociology programme and other related social science disciplines.
    Let them conduct a survey among young Barbadians , especially males as to the reasons why they find the police force unattractive as a vocation. a

    In this survey the Police can a feel of how the Service is viewed among the youth.

    The successful completion of this kind of survey should not only go as high credit to the students ’course of study and honours attainment but also assist the government in designing a recruitment package that would be more attractive to the more sophisticated and educated young men. Why can’t the Cave Hill campus or BCC offer an associate degree in Policing (Law Enforcement & Administration) that would spread over 2 academic years. The first year would be the diploma stage which would be executed by the existing Police Training College. The second stage would be at the associate degree level involving more training in the relevant laws, sociological issues (human rights, public relations, etc) basic administration and use of ICT in crime prevention and detection. The graduates from both programme levels would be paid for their qualifications at a much higher level than currently exist. The funding of this Policing Qualification could be done through savings achieved by dropping or downsizing some of academic programmes currently undertaken by the two educational establishments. Many of the courses offered at these two institutions of learning are producing graduates whose chances of finding gainful employment in the coming new economy is like finding water on the Moon

  12. @ Colonel Buggy,

    and that is the kind of mentality which will always hinder progress… the good old ‘in my day’. If you think its gonna fly these days then by all means. Wait and see what’s left of this country in seventy five years and the road we go down as the police force drops from 200 vacancies, to 300 to 400, 500, 1000.

    And then keep telling people to fit themselves to the uniform and not the uniform to them.

    Police isn’t military. Military are trained for one reason/purpose. I defend or attack. And these goals are achieved by killing the enemy and that is what it comes down too. Police doesn’t involve killing except in the course of self defense.

    But tell RSM Hinkson I said hi, or did he die like 30 years ago? Are you enjoying retirement and looking forward to memorial day?

  13. @Sayed: “Wait and see what’s left of this country in seventy five years and the road we go down as the police force drops from 200 vacancies, to 300 to 400, 500, 1000.

    I resonate with what you say.

    The police force should be very well paid.

    Does anyone really understand the bullshit they deal with?

    If the officers are not well paid, they might be tempted by bribes.

    Down that path leads to anarchy.

  14. The Commissioner of Police and the decision makers in the Police Force will probably respond just like Colonel Buggy did. Can the Force make that decision anyway or would it have to come from higher up?

  15. @ Brutus;
    Then replace “Commissioner” with “AG and Cabinet”!
    Need for serious change still stands!

  16. The simple truth is that many of our young men are simply cowards, who do not want to put themselves in any danger, preferring to sit behind a tray selling ackees and coconuts, while our frail looking women take over the baton.

  17. Tell me honestly, how many of you that are now knocking the police uniform would consider personally joining the force if the uniform is changed for something more to your liking?

  18. @ The Colonel:
    “The simple truth is that many of our young men are simply cowards, who do not want to put themselves in any danger, preferring to sit behind a tray selling ackees and coconuts, while our frail looking women take over the baton.”
    What went wrong, then? Which generation of men failed to pass on the baton? Should the blame be laid at the door steps of those who introduced dual gender education at the Secondary level- the most hormone- active stage of human development. The last point is subject to debate and not necessarily a personal view; just a possible causal factor to be explored).

  19. HOW many persons agree with Colonel Buggy;s stupid views ???
    HOW many persons agree with miller”””””’ -(whatever) sensible and creative views ???

  20. Barbados is faced with a real or potential crime-wave, depending on your point of view.
    We are told the Force is understrength and is unable to recruit enough officers. I believe that we need to find a way to recruit in order to stand any chance of stopping the crime problems from running away from us.
    Increasing police pay has to be the main way to solve the problem.
    The other factor which is apparently seriously affecting recruitment is the ban on recruiting people who test positive for drugs. While this seems unchallengeable on the face of it, I wonder if there is a way to address this. What about giving notice to the potential recruits of when they will be first tested and giving them information about how long drugs stay in the system?
    Anyone who then fails does not deserve to be in the police.
    Couple this with a ramped-up random drug testing regime for serving officers; one which focuses more on new officers than long serving ones with any new officer testing positive being kicked out immediately
    You could say this is soft, and it may well not work but we need to think creatively.

  21. @ St George’s Dragon:
    What about extending drug testing (including alcohol) to all public sector professions and vocations, including appointment of ministers of the Crown, judges, magistrates and senior civil servants.?

    • Aren’t we worried that crime is escalating in the region?

      Against such a situation the Commissioner and AG strategy is to retreat to comparative regional stats.

      Is this how we are going to manage going forward; by benchmarking?

  22. Buggy don’t forget that we discussing this are the older folks probably over eligble recruitment age.

    Its the young people who need to like it. I have absolutely no problem with someone being attracted to the image of the force and joining for a trivial reason and then finding their true calling and coming to love the job.

    As I said people join or think about it for different reasons. You have to look at the whole package. If you went rto buy a car and the inside was spick and span but the outside was god awful would you not be put off?

    Again if the police force wore pink uniforms with capes and tights you think people would want to become a police? They’d say to themselves I’d like to try the job but no way I am wearing that thingg.

    Potential recruits are thinking of where they might end up, you think they want to end up on the beach or the board walk in that uniform?

    As I said I polled a lot of youngsters and these were the concerns they raised, and to get around the issues of uniform, they want to go to specialist departments such as the task force on joining and that can’t happen.

  23. @ Sayed
    As I said I polled a lot of youngsters and these were the concerns they raised, and to get around the issues of uniform, they want to go to specialist departments such as the task force on joining and that can’t happen.
    I take your point that we in the pension line cannot think for the younger people.
    But lets face it, many of the people today around recruiting age , base their knowledge of the police on the many American police shows which grace our TV’s.These programmes are used a yard stick in relation to our local police force, hence the preference of many to go into specialist departments as glamorized on TV.
    Perhaps the Police Force needs to adopt an Aptitude Tests for potential recruits. Such tests ensure that one fits the job ,moreso than the uniform.

  24. The Cadet Corps has served Barbados well since its formation in 1904,and has become a ready and dependable pool of which the Defence Force can draw it resources from. Maybe to stem the tide of waning recruits, the RBPF should look at establishing a Police Cadet Corps in secondary schools, where the emphasis is on Police and legal matters as opposed to military.By the time these cadet leave school, they should be ready,if they so wish, to become full fledged members of the force, without even having to attend the basic police training course at the RPTC,as they would have covered these subjects ,including drill, during their years as cadets.
    A Police Cadet Corps in secondary schools, may also go a long way in addressing some of the indiscipline and problems that we have been experiencing in the schools, on the buses and on the streets involving students.

  25. Yes – Colonel Buggy’s suggestion deserves consideration. We can’t keep doing things as they have always been done and expect different results.

  26. Island gal said ‘islandgal246 | October 28, 2011 at 7:09 AM | Police in the tropics need to wear cool fabrics and must have a choice of shorts.or long pants. We are too caught up in looking overdressed and uncomfortable”

    I agree, here is a great uniform for our women Police and the fellas are guaranteed to listen to their every word!


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