Very PC police force issues its WPCs with Muslim headscarves complete with badge
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 7:03 PM on 27th July 2009
Female police officers are being issued with head scarves to wear when they visit a mosque. Officers are expected to place the coverings over their heads shortly before they enter the mosque, in keeping with Islamic custom. There are two versions of the head covering - to match the black of a police officer's uniform and the blue of the Police Community Support Officer uniforms. The head scarves have been issued force-wide by Avon and Somerset police - and even have the force's emblem sewn on. They have already been given to seven police officers and eight police community support officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Roberts. Mrs Roberts said: 'Producing head coverings for our officers and staff to wear in places of worship is part of our commitment to engage with all our communities. 'It recognises and respects the cultural and religious practices of our communities. This is a very positive addition to the Avon and Somerset uniform and one which I'm sure will be a welcome item for many of our officers.'
Islamic custom expects women to cover their head inside a place of worship. During an official visit last year, the Queen wore a headscarf, alongside the wife of Turkey’s President, to tour the crypt and caverns of a historic Islamic shrine. The police are the second of the emergency services to adapt their uniform to include a head covering.
Earlier this year, the fire service unveiled full-length skirts, hijab headscarfs and long- sleeved shirts for Muslim women recruits. The hope is that the uniforms, designed for wearing round the station and for outings such as school trips, will be smarter and better fitting for every firefighter. Rashad Azami, Imam and director of the Bath Islamic Society, said: 'It is highly pleasing to see that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary is introducing specially designed head coverings for female officers as part of their police uniform.
There are two versions of the head covering - to match the black of a police officer's uniform and the blue of the Police Community Support Officer uniforms. 'This will go a long way in encouraging a trustful relationship between the police and the Muslim community. The police have been working closely with the Muslim community in the area on many levels for the last few years. 'We have found their co-operation very helpful and hope this step will further strengthen the mutual relationship.'
Avon and Somerset Police were embroiled in a race row two years ago when the force rejected 186 white applicants at the first stage of selection. The force received 800 applications for just 180 jobs and admitted it had "deselected" white male applicants in a bid to increase ethnic diversity. Chief Constable Colin Port was forced to apologise.