Scotland's police service makes bid to attract more BME recruits
POLICE SCOTLAND has announced that the hijab has become an official optional part of the uniform for muslim female police officers in Scotland.
Women working for Police Scotland could previously wear the religious headscarf with approval but it has now been formally constituted as part of the force's uniform, as it works to encourage more muslim women to join its ranks.
The statement released on Tuesday is in contrast to events in France, where photographs emerged of armed police confronting a woman on a beach and forcing her to remove her clothing as part of the controversial ban on the burkini.
"No doubt this will encourage more women from muslim and minority ethnic backgrounds to join Police Scotland." Fahad Bashir
Police Scotland, 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."
The service also announced its position on social media with Twitter and Facebook posts, which were welcomed by SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh.
— Tasmina Sheikh MP (@TasminaSheikh) August 24, 2016
The Scottish Police Muslim Association (SPMA), an organisation set up in 2010 to build closer ties with muslim communities, welcomed the statement from Police Scotland.
Fahad Bashir, chair of the SPMA, 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."
The news comes following authorities in several French towns implementing bans on the burkini, which covers the body and head, citing concerns about 'religious clothing' in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.
"Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve." Phil Gormley
The hijab is a head covering commonly worn by muslim women in the West, covering the hair and neck while leaving the face clear.
The burqa on which the burkini is based, covers all of a woman’s body and originates in Pakistan, but is most-commonly worn by women in Afghanistan, where it is known as the chadri.
A report by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) earlier this year showed there were 4,809 applications to join Police Scotland in 2015 and 2016, of which 127 or 2.6 per cent were from ethnic backgrounds.
It read: "Based on these figures, it is clear to see the challenge Police Scotland faces. 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."
Picture courtesy of SPMA
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