West Midlands Police may let Muslim officers wear burqas and niqabs in effort to boost diversity

West Midlands Police Chief says the force would not rule out allowing female officers to wear the full-body, full-face veil

May Bulman
Friday 09 September 2016 16:55
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West Midlands Police would not rule out allowing female officers to wear the full-body, full-face veil, says Chief Constable David Thompson
West Midlands Police would not rule out allowing female officers to wear the full-body, full-face veil, says Chief Constable David Thompson

One of Britain's largest police forces is considering allowing Muslim officers to wear the burka while on duty in an effort to boost diversity.

West Midlands Police Chief Constable, David Thompson, said the force would not rule out allowing female officers to wear the outfit which includes a long flowing outer garment from head to toe and an Islamic veil, or niqab, that covers all facial features except the eyes.

One female officer currently being trained by the force reportedly already wears a hijab, a headscarf that covers the hair and neck.

But West Midlands Police said no officer has yet applied to wear a burka.

At a recent meeting during which diversity in the force was discussed, Chief Constable Thompson refused to rule out allowing female officers to wear the controversial veil.

He said: “We would need to consider our own rules and cultural sensitivity. Clearly we don't have any barriers relating to that (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.

“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."

Chief Constable Thompson's comments come as West Midlands Police plans to employ 800 new officers, with the aim of ensuring 30 per cent of them come from ethnic minorities.

Currently just nine per cent of West Midlands’ 7,000 police officers are from the BME community, compared with 30 per cent of the West Midlands community as a whole.

People from ethnic minorities make up 5.5 per cent of UK police, compared with 14 per cent of the overall UK population.

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