Burkas on the beat: West Midlands Police consider allowing PCs to wear religious garment
In an attempt to boost diversity, one of the largest police forces in the UK is considering letting Muslim officers wear burkas.
West Midlands Police said they have ‘no barriers’ relating to the burka - which covers the face as well as the body - as they announced that they would discuss allowing the traditional Islamic dress to become part of a policewoman’s uniform.
The force also allows Sikhs to replace their helmet with a turban.
The hijab – which does not cover the face – was approved by the Metropolitan Police as uniform a decade ago.
Furthermore, Police Scotland announced last month that the hijab had become an optional part of their force uniform.
Chief Constable David Thompson said at a recent meeting that he would consider employing staff who wear a burka as he looks to increase black and minority ethnic (BME) officers in the region to 30 per cent.
Currently, no serving officers wear the burka - which leaves the eyes barely visible - but it is hoped the move would encourage more BME recruits.
Speaking after a meeting last Thursday, Chief Constable Thompson said: “We would need to consider our own rules and cultural sensitivity.
“Clearly we don't have any barriers relating to the burka.
“As it stands we have not had any approaches from potential recruits asking to wear the burka, but if such an approach was made it is something we would have to consider.'
West Midlands Police is currently trying to increase BME staff from just nine per cent.
The force announced its latest recruitment drive last week, and so far more than 6,000 people have applied for just 1,100 positions.
West Midlands Police was recently named as one of the country's most inclusive employers. It ranked seventh in the 'Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers' list, which is compiled by judges from the Excellence in Diversity awards.