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Police officers should be allowed to have visible tattoos

As constant innovation of tattoo art takes place across the globe, and health and safety standards rise alongside, more and more people have found themselves saying, “Actually, maybe I would quite like to get a tattoo.” Watercolour and Mandala art design in tattoo work took social media by storm upon their perfection and we were able to glimpse again the diverse and impressive realm of design associated with tattoo art.

In respect to this, studies have shown that as many as 1 in 5 people in the UK as a whole are tattooed, with this figure rising to 1 in 3 for young adults. And in a decade we have seen the amount of tattoo parlours on our streets rise from 300 to as many as 1,500. All of this is because at its heart, tattooing is now a respectable and adored high-street business.

Yet time and time again, you will read about some scandal or other, wherein a person in a professional position might lose their job because they have chosen to tattoo their skin. They are put in a situation where their livelihood and their passions become threatened, because they chose to opt in to this global art community.

Thankfully, we seem to have now surpassed discussions on whether workers can have visible tattoos in the office, or in schools. Instead, the discussion is currently looking towards the police force, and with a kind of animosity which seems out of place for 2016. A recent article published in the Telegraph looks to those who wish to join the UK police force and says, “Hey youngster! If you want to be part of the team then you can’t be looking like some hairy biker from a shady pub, don’t you have any respect?”

This is a tired and old-fashioned form of stereotyping which surprises me by its recurrence. That you would assume violence or non-education of a person because they have the date of their mother’s death on their forearm quite simply says more about you than the individual. It is lazy stereotyping, and if the stats are anything to go by, then this kind of attitude needs to shape up quickly. With more and more young adults being tattooed, to disallow someone to join the police or similar forces due to tattoos is not only harmful, but a potentially terrible waste of young talent and enthusiasm.

The Police Federation of England and Wales have recently announced that officers should be allowed to have visible tattoos on their faces, necks and hands. Showing a forward-thinking approach to the rise in popularity of tattoos, and simultaneously going directly against the grain, considering that the Met Police has banned officers from having tattoos on their hands and faces since 2012.

This is exactly this kind of challenge which we need to see more of; we need to move away from this claim of “back in my day…” and react instead to what the facts and figures are telling us about our society today.

Image credit: aitoff

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