Police Scotland has announced that the hijab will become an optional part of its uniform with immediate effect as the force aim to improve the diversity amongst its officers.
Officers and staff have always had the option to wear religious headwear, according to a release this week, yet this latest announcement ratifies this and actively encourages 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 it was an important message that needed to be shared.
“I am delighted to make this announcement and welcome the support from the Muslim community, and the wider community, as well as police officers and staff,” he said.
“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, also labelled the move as a positive one.
He 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 organisation 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.”
Police Scotland has built strong partnerships with local communities, including all faith and non-faith groups, and is committed to encouraging more women and recruits from Black and Minority Ethnic communities to join its ranks.
The backing of the hijab is part of Police Scotland’s ongoing diversity drive which aims to tackle worrying statistics released earlier this year.
The data showed that just 127 (or two per cent) of the 4,809 applications to join the force were from people from a BME or ethnic background.
The report added: “If the black and minority ethnic groups (BME) national average of four per cent is to be met within the organisation, an additional 650 BME recruits are required across all areas of the business.
“Considering current application trends, this would appear to be unachievable.”