Police chiefs in London are scrapping rules on new recruits having tattoos which have barred hundreds of potential officers from joining the Metropolitan Police as the force faces a "challenging" rise in violent crime.
As part of a £1.25 million recruitment drive launched on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police said candidates with tattoos will be considered for roles as it tries to attract another 2,000 officers over the next year, to take total numbers above 30,000.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the new rule "brings the Met into line with other services".
During the latest financial year, out of about 13,000 new recruits who applied to the force, approximately 10% were rejected because of tattoos.
Ms Dick added: "Many young people are ruling themselves out of joining us because of their tattoos."
Asked if those with sleeve tattoos would be employed, Ms Dick said: "Potentially, as long as they are not offensive, but officers may be asked to wear a long-sleeve shirt on occasions."
Previously, visible tattoos were not permitted for any officer in the Met, and facial tattoos remain banned.
The recruitment drive comes as London faces a wide range of security concerns, including a high homicide rate. More than 100 homicide investigations have been launched since the start of 2018.
Neville Lawrence, the father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, said this week that even the "leafy suburbs can no longer ignore violent crime".
Ms Dick was confident Londoners are safe, but admitted the rise in violent crime has been a "challenge".
She said: "I think the vast majority of people going about their business in London will be very safe. London is a safe city by anybody's standards.
"I think what Neville is saying is we've even seen some knife crime in areas people in the past didn't expect to see it, and that is a challenge."
She added: "We'll be using the 2,000 new officers in a whole variety of different ways, but on the streets in their first couple of years, and they will be part of the fight against violent crime.
"They won't initially be working on homicide investigations but their presence will help the homicide investigators, and of course their presence on the streets will help reduce violent crime.
"In general they will be part of the fight against violent crime and they will be reaching into our communities giving a really good, compassionate service to victims."