THE iconic police helmet will be returned to the heads of Oxfordshire's police officers.

Police commissioner Anthony Stansfeld, who will announce the return of custodian helmets today, said re-issuing the headwear to officers would boost visibility and reassure the public.

The helmets, which were scrapped by the force in 2009, will be rolled out to male officers in the coming months.

Female officers will continue to wear their uniform bowler hats.

Mr Stansfeld said: “I have felt very strongly for a number of years that officers patrolling the streets of Thames Valley need to be more visible.

“I believe that wearing the custodian helmet not only increases visibility but also makes them more approachable and provides greater reassurance to the public.

“The custodian helmet is an iconic symbol of British policing, still used by a number of metropolitan police forces, and I am delighted that they will be returning to the streets of Thames Valley.”

Police say feedback to a trial-run in Reading has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.

Critics, however, have said the cash would be better spent elsewhere.

Oxford City Council’s community safety lead Tom Hayes said the money should be used to fund an extra community police officer role.

TVP Federation chairman Craig O’Leary said the money would be better spent on health and welfare provision for officers.