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Maltese police union bristles over ban on beards

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By Matthew Holroyd
Police officers patrol in Castile square, outside the office of the prime minister in Malta.
Police officers patrol in Castile square, outside the office of the prime minister in Malta.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/ Rene Rossignaud, File

Maltese police officers have been told they can grow beards, dye their hair and even wear nail varnish in a dispute over uniform policy.

The Malta Police Union (MPU) has complained about a new directive ordering all male officers to shave or face disciplinary action.

The "Personal Appearance" order was issued last month by the Commissioner of Police in Malta.

Police officers would be sanctioned if in uniform and "unshaven, improperly dressed, or dirty/untidy in their person".

But critics say the order is "unlawful" and does not allow for any exceptions.

On Friday, the MPU said it has registered its complaint and, after receiving no response, launched a protest against the directive.

The union has urged police officers in Malta to grow facial hair and make their feelings known next week.

"Male members of the Force, whether uniformed or plain clothes, may sport a beard as long as it is well-groomed," the union said in a statement.

"All members of the Force, whilst on all duties and at the ADF are not to wear their police cap," it added.

"Hair may be dyed -- except inconspicuous colours -- [and] nail polish of any colour may be used."

The MPU has around 1,800 members out of the 2,000-strong police force in the small EU member state.

Additional sources • AFP