Policemen in S’pore stopped wearing shorts after 1969

New uniforms for a newly-independent nation.

By Tanya Ong | April 16, 2018

Front-line police officers will get new uniforms starting April 16, 2018.

This newest uniform design will keep the heat and humidity out.

The new fabric of the uniform is 98 percent polyester and 2 percent spandex.

Additionally, the old metallic buttons will be swapped out for concealed plastic buttons.

The word “POLICE” will also be embroidered above the name tag.

Photo courtesy of Singapore Police Force (SPF).
Photo courtesy of SPF.

Since the Singapore Police Force (SPF) began in 1820, the uniform has undergone many iterations and tweaks.

Early days of policemen

The police force in Singapore goes as far back as 1820, a mere two years after Singapore was founded.

At that time, Farquhar was in charge of the new colony’s law and order, and a police force of slightly just over 10 staff was established.

Uniform from late 1863 to 1893. Photo from SPF.

As the trading port grew, a larger and more complex police force was developed to manage societal order.

In the 1900s, divisions such as the Criminal Investigation Department, the Police Coast Guards, and the Traffic Police were formed.

Photo from NAS

In 1949, women were also welcomed to join the force.

Photo from SPF.

Today, the SPF has grown to become a force of over 40,000-strong.

Full khaki

In 1890, the force experimented with a khaki material and the uniform of that time featured khaki shirt and shorts, black puttees and black boots.

Compared to the previous uniform which was made of heavily-woven fabric, khaki was lighter and more practical in Singapore’s humid weather.

Photo courtesy of SPF.

The full khaki uniform was worn from 1893 to 1942.

Khaki shorts

From the post-WWII period up until 1969, policemen wore khaki shorts with a grey flannel shirt.

These shorts kept the policemen cool during the day.

Photo courtesy of Singapore Police Force.
Photo courtesy of Fotorus.

During the National Day Parade 2015, there was a vintage parade segment featuring policemen in shorts to represent the SPF. This was what they looked like wearing the old uniforms:

Photo from SPF’s Facebook.

Professional dacron blue uniforms

After Singapore gained independence, the new uniform underwent a major design change in 1969.

That year was significant for Singapore’s police force as it marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore, as well as the growth of the force to become 6,000-strong.

In line with a more professional image, the new uniform was meant to represent the Singapore Police Force in the context of a newly-independent nation.

The new dacron uniforms comprised a peak cap, dark blue shirt, dark blue trousers or skirt, black belt, blue and white corded whistle lanyard, black socks and black boots.

Dacron is a material used in fibres for clothing and even sailcloth.

Photo from NAS.
Photo courtesy of Singapore Police Force.

More iterations

Further tweaks were made to the design after that, especially in response to Singapore’s tropical weather.

For instance, dacron was replaced with polyester and cotton to better combat the heat, as well as for a smarter turnout.

The most recent change in uniform also boasts similar improvements as officers decked in the new shirts were found to have 1°C lower body temperature than those wearing the old shirts.

Even though this is the uniform’s first major revamp in 33 years, it will certainly not be its last.


Top photo from Fotorus

About Tanya Ong

Tanya knows pi to the 35th decimal place for absolutely no reason at all.

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