You might be wondering why exactly detectives wear suits as opposed to their fellow patrol officer colleagues. While the uniform worn by police officers is distinctive and easy to spot, identifying a detective is a little harder. And for good reason.
To put it simply, the role of a detective doesn’t require the use of the regular police officer uniform. Additionally, by wearing a suit or regular clothing, the public will have a harder time identifying them amidst an investigation – spotting them could jeopardise their investigation!
Since it is a police officer’s responsibility to respond to incidents and protect the community, it is important that the public can easily identify them in the case of an emergency. On the flip side, a detective steps into their role after a crime has taken place.
Today, we explore the history of the detective uniform in the UK along with why they wear something completely different to patrol officers.
History of detective uniforms in the UK
Since the early 1800s, police officers have worn distinctive uniforms to distinguish themselves from the military and establish trust from the public. Overall, their uniform tends to vary depending on their role and which department they work in. However, spotting a patrol officer has never been difficult and maintaining visibility in the case of an emergency has always been at the forefront of the police force’s mind.
While police officers’ uniforms have continued to adapt throughout the years, the uniform worn by a detective has pretty much remained the same.
From the beginning of time in which the Metropolitan Police was first established, detectives have always been found wearing suits. The most common outfit worn includes trousers, formal shoes, a shirt, a blazer, and a tie. Since their main place of work tends to be within an office, it has never made sense for them to wear the standard uniform.
Why do detectives wear suits?
Detectives wear suits to simply blend in with the public. Because their role is to investigate serious crimes, the last thing that a detective would want is to be easily identified while on duty. Furthermore, their job really doesn’t require the standard policing uniform since their involvement occurs after a crime has been committed.
Responsible for investigating and solving crimes, a detective is usually involved in cases including murder, serious assault, armed robbery, and so much more. Maintaining a low profile is the absolute key to ensuring the success of identifying suspects and gathering evidence. To avoid jeopardising the entire case, a detective must blend in with the public so as not to deter any suspects or draw attention to themselves.
While their duty is to gather evidence and interview witnesses, suspects, and victims, their main location for work is typically within an office. Just like you wouldn’t see a corporate 9-5 goer normally wearing a uniform, the same is applied to detectives!
Typically, the uniform worn by a detective can range anywhere from formal to smart/casual clothing.
In the UK, you are likely to find a detective wearing trousers, a shirt, formal shoes, a suit jacket, and maybe even a tie. However, this can vary from department to department and sometimes you may find a detective dressing a little more casually than this.
While the uniform tends to vary across the UK, maintaining their safety at all costs is extremely important. Detectives are also equipped with the same personal protective equipment just like their fellow patrol officers. Generally, a detective will be carrying handcuffs, a baton, and a protective spray.
Additionally, since their role is to investigate serious crime and conduct numerous interviews, they may also be carrying pens, paper, logbooks, a watch or smartphone, and a flashlight.
If a detective is required to attend ceremonial occasions such as awards ceremonies or funerals, it’s common practice for the standard policing uniform to be worn.
In the UK, you won’t typically see a detective wearing the same uniform as their fellow patrol officer colleagues. To maintain discretion amidst an investigation, and since the beginning of time, it’s standard practice to wear outfits that blend in with the public.
While it’s fairly easy to spot police officers in their infamous uniforms, identifying a detective is certainly a little harder! Protecting ongoing investigations is absolutely essential in providing the best possible outcome to anyone affected by crime.