Republished via BBC News
Police to abandon traditional helmets after research shows they alter officers’ head shapes
Police forces across England & Wales are to replace the traditional Custodian helmet after researchers published data showing that over time, the helmets caused the shapes of their wearers’ heads to change.
Academics at the College of Policing demonstrated that over the course of several years, some officers’ heads were up to five inches longer than they had been when they had been measured as new recruits.
The Custodian, first adopted by the London Metropolitan Police in 1863, will be replaced by flat caps.
Long running research
The study into head shapes took place over twenty years with researchers gathering data from over 10,000 beat officers working in forces around England & Wales.
The data, published in the International Journal of Police Science, demonstrated a trend for officers’ heads to gradually assume the same shape as their helmets and to become noticeably more cone-shaped.
Changes in air pressure to blame
Report publisher Justin Lofter has said that the effect can be explained by “small changes in air pressure” within the helmet.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, he said: “The air pressure inside the helmet is slightly lower than outside causing a small suction effect on the top of the head which after several years, begins to pull the head into the shape of the helmet”
But Police Federation leader Dixon Green has argued that the ‘cone head’ effect has long been known about and that many officers are proud that their heads get reshaped by the traditional headgear.
“It’s a sign of experience”, he said.
Police forces are set to phase out the helmets by the end of the year.