The hijab or the head scarf has been made an optional part of Police Scotland’s uniform in an attempt to attract more women Muslim recruits to the force, which currently has less black and Asian representation.
Previously, officers could wear the religious head scarf with approval but it is now formally part of the police uniform. Police Scotland said it is working to make the force “representative of the communities we serve”. “Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve,” said Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
“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 bring to policing the communities of Scotland,” he said.
The move in Scotland comes 10 years after Scotland Yard in London approved a uniform hijab. At present, there are six women Muslim officers working for Police Scotland, but none of them wear the hijab either on duty or off it.
Official figures showed that there were 127 applications from black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates in 2015-16. That was just 2.6 per cent of the total number applying to work for the force.
The latest announcement is aimed at encouraging more Muslim women to consider a career in the police force.
The Scottish Police Authority said, “Based on these figures, it is clear to see that challenge Police Scotland faces. If the black and minority ethnic groups (BME) national average of 4 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,” it said. The Scottish Police Muslim Association’s chairman Fahad Bashir welcomed the announcement.