UNDATED (CBS) -- British police have launched a crackdown they say will improve their image. Officers with visible tattoos are no longer allowed to expose them.
Britain's top police force has inked a new policy on tattoos. Scotland Yard is ordering officers to cover them up.
Commanders say visible tattoos on the hands, neck or face damage the 'professional image' of the department. Charlie Robinson of London says, "It makes them look more threatening than someone who doesn't have a tattoo I think."
Jamie Thorn believes officers have the right to show off their body art. He says he's tattooed plenty of police. He says, "Never on their hands, on their neck, but they've had large forearm pieces and as people they're interested in art."
The ban applies to all of Britain's 52,000 officers. Those who already have visible markings are being ordered to tell their managers in writing or risk being fired.
Chris Ozo has plenty of tattoos but believes officers should not. He says, "I think policemen should be with clean- their hands and neck and face."
Some police leaders argue visible tattoos are a good thing because they can help officers break the ice with teenagers in rough areas of London.
Ian Pointon has been a police officer for 25 years and while he doesn't have any tattoo's he says it shouldn't matter if others on the force do. He says, "You know people tend to call the police when they need something, when they're in a crisis, perhaps the last thing on their mind is whether the officer has a tattoo on their forearm or not."
But like it or not, Scotland Yard says the new policy is permanently etched in the rule book.
Scotland Yard has already banned offensive and violent tattoos and new recruits have been required to declare tattoos for years.