Hawke's Bay's boys in blue were set to bring a bit of laughter to the streets and promote social distancing with the "Slugs not Hugs" movement.

But the new Police Commissioner, and his safety-conscious stance on facial hair, has seen it cut short.

The moustache movement was aimed at promoting "the message of social distancing and keeping ourselves safe but also so people can remember to have a laugh and smile during this difficult time".

The idea had come from Detective Constable Dominic Burt who wanted to start the conversation around social distancing in a humorous and fun way.

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"Much like the Movember movement, it was started to have a laugh but also to raise awareness of our social responsibility at this tough time," Burt said.

Burt said some people, predominantly males, have a "she'll be right" approach, so the moustaches were a lighthearted way to open up the conversation around this issue.

 Sergeant Reece Marshall shaves off the moustache grown for the Slugs not Hugs. Photo / Ian Cooper
Sergeant Reece Marshall shaves off the moustache grown for the Slugs not Hugs. Photo / Ian Cooper

Burt said the moustaches had elicited a few smiles and laughs and helped break down conversation barriers, but "Wives and partners aren't so happy however," he said.

"It's been good to get the team involved in something that boosts staff morale at busy times like this," Inspector Jeanette Park said.

"We're all in this together so a bit of humour goes a long way.

"We recognise that what we are asking our people to do is challenging and, by and large, people are doing a tremendous job, so we hope to bring them a bit of light relief with this," she said.

The Slugs not Hugs movement came to a close after the new Police Commissioner encouraged staff to shave. Photo / Ian Cooper
The Slugs not Hugs movement came to a close after the new Police Commissioner encouraged staff to shave. Photo / Ian Cooper

However, given the suggestion of newly appointed Police Commissioner Andrew Coster that staff shave beards so personal protection masks fit better, the movement has been short-lived.

"When this movement started it overlapped with messaging from our new Commissioner about being clean shaven for better fit of protective masks, so the lads promptly shaved their mos off in solidarity with our new boss," Park said.

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