(“Sillitoe’s Tartan”)

By Allan L. Peters.

The distinctive chequered band that adorns caps worn by members of the South Australia Police Force was first introduced into South Australia by Brigadier John McKinna in 1961.
Soon after his appointment as Commissioner of Police, Mr. McKinna realized that much confusion existed in the minds of the general public when it came to readily identifying the minor differences that, at the time existed between the uniforms of various organizations such as City Council Parking Inspectors, Metropolitan Fire Services personnel, and the Police Officers.
Whilst on a fact finding tour of Scotland, Mr. McKinna saw the chequered band being worn, and later followed up by letter seeking permission to use the distinctive band in South Australia.
The band had firstly been introduced into Scotland in the 1930s by the newly appointed Chief Constable of Glasgow, Captain (later Sir) Percy Sillitoe for much the same reason that Mr. McKinna had in mind.
Sir Percy, in summarising the event wrote: -
“Another small innovation which was, I think, welcomed, was the fitting of the blue-and-white diced bands around the peaked caps of the police officers.
Frequently in the past motorists had refused to stop on country roads when they were signalled to do so after dark by an unidentifiable figure in cape and cap – and as a motorist myself I cordially sympathised with them, for there was no way at all of knowing if one was being halted by a bona fide policeman or a hold-up man, and one certainly did not wish to risk stopping to find out. White capes seemed impractical, and white caps would not have been sufficiently distinctive. But the ‘diced band’ of the uniform of the Brigade of Guards would be unmistakable and seemed ideal, so I borrowed it for my men and it became known as Sillitoe’s Tartan.
Since then all the Scottish police forces have adopted it.”
      Needless to say John McKinna was successful in having the chequered cap band that we now all know so well, accepted into the dress code of the South Australia Police Force.
It is interesting to note that the South Australia Police thereby become the first police force outside of Scotland to adopt ‘Sillitoe’s Tartan’, which today is accepted almost world wide as the official, police logo.

Sources : -

Untitled paper
By - R. J. Potts
November 1995.

Caps and Badges of the
South Australian Police
By – John White.

Cloak Without Dagger
By – Sir Percy Sillitoe.
Pan Books 1955.




Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Site map | Tell a Friend
© 2002  South Australian Police Historical
Society Incorporated.  All Rights Reserved.
This web site first established on November 23rd 2000.
Web development by Charlie Tredrea