Police forces in the UK are considering permitting female Muslim officers to wear the burka in a bid to encourage diversity in the force. Senior officers at West Midlands Police are to consider a proposal to allow Muslim officers to wear the traditional Islamic dress in place of the convetional police uniform.
Chief Constable, David Thompson, said the force aims to increase black and minority ethnic (BME) officers in the region from 9 per cent to 30 per cent and introducing the burka – which covers the entirety of a woman's face and body, leaving just the eyes visible - may result in more engagement from potential recruits from the Muslim community.
Speaking after a meeting to discuss the proposal, the senior officer 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," he added.
A decade ago, the Metropolitan Police approved the wearing of the hijab - a headscarf covering the head and neck but leaving the face visible - after a number of Muslim officers requested permission to wear the traditional Muslim head covering.
The hijab was most recently introduced in police forces in Scotland, while the Metropolitan police force has allowed Sikhs to replace their helmet with a turban.
No serving officers currently wear the burka, but it is hoped that the integration of the Muslim traditional dress for women, would encourage more female BME recruits.
The force announced its latest recruitment drive last week, and so far more than 6,000 people have applied for just 1,100 positions, Mirror Online reports.
The news of the police forces' proposed recruitment drive comes after a poll by YouGov revealed that only 25% of British voters would oppose a burqa ban if the controversial crackdown on the Islamic dress was proposed in the UK.