Police in England and Scotland to allow Muslim officers to wear full burqa and face veil while on duty

Muslim women wearing burqas (illustration) 
By: Feng Qian

Several police department across the United Kingdom, have announced that they will allow Muslim women to wear burkas and face veils while on duty.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson of the West Midlands police said: “We would need to consider our own rules and cultural sensitivity. We don’t have any barriers relating to the burqa.

“As it stands, we have not had any approaches from potential recruits asking to wear the burqa, but if such an approach was made, it is something we would have to consider.

“Serving the people of the West Midlands is at the heart of what we do, and I would need to carefully consider anything that could be seen as standing in the way of that relationship.”

Around 30 percent of the West Midlands community are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, but only 9 percent of West Midlands’ 7,000 police officers are from that community.

“What’s important here is that we reflect the community we serve. We’ve already taken significant steps with a third of our current recruits from minority backgrounds, but there’s far more to be done,” Thompson said.

Earlier this week, Police Scotland has announced that the hijab will become an optional part of its uniform. Officers and staff have always had the option to wear religious headwear.

The announcement formally ratifies the Police Scotland hijab and will encourage women from Muslim communities, who may previously not have seen policing as a career option, to reconsider.

Making the announcement, Chief Constable Phil Gormley, said: “I am delighted to make this announcement and welcome the support from both the Muslim community, and the wider community, as well as police officers and staff.

“Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve.

“I hope that this addition to our uniform options will contribute to making our staff mix more diverse and adds to the life skills, experiences and personal qualities that our officers and staff bring to policing the communities of Scotland.”

Fahad Bashir, Chair of the Scottish Police Muslim Association, said: "This is a positive step in the right direction, and I am delighted that Police Scotland is taking productive steps in order to ensure that our organization is seen to be inclusive and represents the diverse communities that we serve across Scotland.

"No doubt this will encourage more women from Muslim and minority ethnic backgrounds to join Police Scotland."