Scores of Scotland Yard officers are in open revolt after being banned from wearing Union Flag badges in support of British troops.
Met chiefs have decreed that the tiny emblems – which cost £1 with proceeds going to charity – must be removed after a complaint that they are offensive.
But furious junior officers are continuing to wear them in defiance at the politically
A petition has been launched on the Downing Street website demanding they be allowed to wear the badges, which are to raise funds for the Royal British
Legion and the Help for Heroes charity.
Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: ‘The decision
to forbid police officers from joining the rest of the country in showing support for those who are fighting for their country is nothing less than shameful.’
The row started when 200 officers at Heathrow Airport were barred from wearing the badges last month on the grounds that they were in breach of the Met’s strict dress code.
The order is thought to have followed a complaint from a member of public that the symbol is ‘offensive’. But about 70 officers, many of whom have been in the Services or have relatives fighting in Afghanistan, have ignored the directive despite warnings of disciplinary action.
Mr Smyth, who represents more than 30,000 rank and file officers, said staff in
the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group, CO19 firearms squad and dog units have joined the revolt. In a statement on the Metropolitan Police Federation’s website, he said: ‘As the country mourned the deaths of young soldiers and saluted the heroism of the men and women fighting in Afghanistan, Met officers at the airport were
ordered to take off small, one-inch square Union Flag badges because someone had complained they were offensive.’
Officers at Heathrow were also ordered to take down a Union Flag hoisted on June 27
– Armed Forces Day – because it was not an ‘approved ensign’. Strict rules are in place about when the Union Flag can be flown at individual police stations.
Mr Smyth added: ‘These orders from senior officers are legal and must be obeyed.
They are, however, also completely crass.’
‘Offensive’: One of the emblems is just a tiny Union Jack with the words support our troops.
He added: ‘Personnel serving in the armed forces pass through Heathrow, but are
being denied any boost to morale they might get from a very modest display of support
by the Metropolitan Police. ‘It is not even as if the wearing of “unofficial” badges is
Mr Smyth said said senior officers routinely turn a blind eye to constables wearing gay
pride ribbons when they go on marches.
Strictly speaking, officers are not allowed to wear any type of badge on their uniforms. Mr Smyth said: ‘From what I can gather, someone may have complained that the Union Flag is offensive. I find that hard to believe. We take theoath to serve the Queen and these badges are for a charitable cause.’
He added that as the row has escalated, hundreds of patriotic officers have expressed an interest in buying the Union Flag badge.
In February, Scotland Yard was hit by another row over political correctness after the
Union Flag hanging outside a police station was replaced by a gay rights flag to mark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month.
This is despite Met rules stating that only the Union Flag and its own flag can fly from
force buildings. Scotland Yard said last night: ‘The Metropolitan Police has a dress code policy to clarify the dress standard expected from all staff whether they are wearing uniform or plain clothes. The Met wants to ensure that everyone projects a smart and professional image in support of delivering a quality service.
‘The dress code states only the approved corporate badging may be used and only on
clothing authorised by the Clothing Board.’
Those wishing to support the badge wearing officers can sign the Downing Street petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/PoliceUniform