THE traditional police helmet may be an instantly recognisable sign of authority that commands respect.

But it doesn’t keep chilly ears warm.

However Thames Valley Police officers on duty in wintry conditions will soon be able to wear a force-issue woolly hat.

Those on patrol or sitting in heated vehicles will not be allowed to wear them, but those stationed outside for long periods of time will get a standard issue black hat with the word ‘Police’ knitted in white on the front.

Pc Lisa Stanhope, Thames Valley Police Federation’s head of health and safety, came up with the idea and helped officers lobby the force’s Chief Constable Sara Thornton to allow the hats to become official regalia.

It is not yet known how much the new gear will cost as the first officers to wear them are yet to test them out – and they won’t be available until at least the autumn.

Federation spokesman Graham Smith said: “It’s just been approved so we can start ordering them now, and hope to have them in time for the next cold snap. “The current hats don’t provide enough protection when it’s cold outside so it should make a difference.”

Not all officers will get the hats, only those who ask for them. The force isn’t the first in the country to allow winter warmers however, as officers at Devon and Cornwall Police can wear both woolly hats and snoods.