In what is one of the biggest shocks of the century (only joking) the Victorian Supreme Court has supported Victoria Police’s tightening of its grooming standards in 2012 in upholding the prohibition of male officers having ponytails, buns, beards, goatees, soul patches and other facial hair, other than tidy sideburns and moustaches.
The Police Regulation Act was amended to give the Chief Commissioner the power to “determine standards of grooming and acceptable clothing accessories for members of Victoria Police, which may differ based on sex, gender identity, physical features or religious belief or activity”.
An attack on the Act was rejected by Justice Garde who held that the Act granted the Chief Commissioner “explicit statutory power to superintend and control matters affecting the appearance of members of the police force. “He said that when it came “matters of grooming including facial hair”, the power was “plain and unambiguous”.
Justice Garde also observed the law made it clear that the “imposition of ‘standards of grooming’ clearly may involve the trimming or removal of hair including facial hair. Removal or reduction of some hair features such as hair that might interfere with headdress, hair below the shirt collar, long sideburns, handlebar style moustaches, beards, goatees, soul patches, ponytails and like styles may all result from the imposition of ‘standards of grooming’ by the Chief Commissioner”.
Kuyken v Chief Commissioner of Police (2015) VSC 204 delivered 14 May 2015