The United Kingdom’s female police force will soon have to don the Muslim headscarf if they enter mosques or places of worship while on the job in the force’s latest efforts to respect the religious practices of the country’s religious communities.
Avon and Somerset Police has issued two types of head coverings to its female officers so they can enter mosques while on duty. Embroidered with the West Country force's name and logo, the scarves come in to colors to match two types of uniforms.
The blue is designed for the Police community Support Officer uniform while the black headscarf matches the uniform of the standard police officer.
“This is a very positive addition to the Avon and Somerset uniform and one which I'm sure will be a welcome item for many of our officers," Jackie Roberts, Assistant chief Constable for Avon and Somerset, said told the Times online.
The Metropolitan police. The largest and most diverse U.K. force, said the new uniform addition was adopted after consultations with the British Muslim community in a joint project with the Aklima and Mosque Initiatives, which focus on working Muslim women.
Rashad Azami, imam of Bath Islamic Society, was pleased with the move, saying it was the right step towards building trust between British Muslims and the U.K. law enforcement establishment.
"This will go a long way in encouraging a trustful relationship between the police and the Muslim community," he said, adding that "the police have been working closely with the Muslim community in the area on many levels for the last few years."
This is a very positive addition to the Avon and Somerset uniform and one which I'm sure will be a welcome item for many of our officers
Jackie Roberts, Avon and Somerset
Not just to appease Muslims
The scarves, however, serve a multi-faith purpose as they were issued to cater to Christian and Jewish dress etiquettes in their respective places of worship.
"They are designed to be used in any place of worship and can be used to cover the head or the shoulders. For example, plain clothes officers could use them to cover their shoulders in a Catholic Church, or they can be used to cover the head in synagogues," a spokeswoman of the U.K. Metropolitan Police said.
In January of 2009 police opened the door to female Muslim recruits by incorporating the hijab into the uniform allowing Muslim veiled women to join the force who were deterred previously from applying to join the force.
They are designed to be used in any place of worship and can be used to cover the head or the shoulders
UK police spokeswoman