Scotland

Police Scotland hijab plan for Muslim officers

Metropolitan Police officers wearing hijab
Image caption The Metropolitan Police approved a uniform hijab more than 10 years ago

Police Scotland is preparing to introduce a hijab as an optional part of its uniform to encourage Muslim women to join the force.

It is studying a specific design of headscarf which would cover the head and neck but not the face.

Currently, officers who wish to wear a religious head covering must seek the approval of a senior officer.

Police Scotland is committed to encouraging more black and Asian recruits to apply to join the force.

The Metropolitan Police in London approved a uniform hijab more than 10 years ago.

'Unnecessary barriers'

Police Scotland figures showed that there were 127 applications from black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates in 2015-16. That was just 2.6% of the total number applying to work for the force.

In order to reflect the 4% figure across Scottish society, the force said it would need to recruit an additional 650 ethnic minority candidates.

It is understood the new headscarf will be presented to a police working group for consideration as part of the uniform.

It will be one of a range of measures aimed at breaking down "unnecessary barriers" for applications from Asian and black candidates.

However, the force warned there was no "quick fix" to the problem.

Ch Insp Ann Bell of Police Scotland said: "This year, it's now 101 years since the first woman joined policing in Scotland.

"Police Scotland are really keen to encourage more women to come and be police officers.

"Really this is just another tool in our tool kit to encourage women from communities that perhaps haven't seen policing as a career option previously to now start to think about that."

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