In an attempt to create a more diverse force, Police Scotland has announced that the hijab will become part of its official uniform.
The force said they hope the move will “encourage women from Muslim communities, who may previously not have seen policing as a career option, to reconsider.” In the past, Muslim police officers in Scotland were allowed to wear the hijab only when it had been approved by senior staff members.
“I am delighted to make this announcement and welcome the support from both the Muslim community, and the wider community, as well as police officers and staff,” Chief Constable Phil Gormley, said in a statement.“Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve. 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 and staff bring to policing the communities of Scotland,” he added.
The announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Police Muslim Association (SPMA), a group that aims to build links between Muslim communities in Scotland and police. Fahad Bashir, chair of the SPMA said, “This is a positive step in the right direction, and I am delighted that Police Scotland is taking productive steps in order to ensure that our organisation is seen to be inclusive and represents the diverse communities that we serve across Scotland. No doubt this will encourage more women from Muslim and minority ethnic backgrounds to join Police Scotland.”
Police Scotland’s decision to include the hijab in its uniform stems from a report by the Scottish Police Authority, which showed earlier this year that just 127, (2.6 per cent) of the 4,809 applications to join the police force were from ethnic backgrounds. The report said, “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.”
The Metropolitan Police of multicultural London was the first law enforcement body in the United Kingdom to introduce the hijab as an optional part of the force’s official uniform in 2001. The decision was taken as part of a similar drive to recruit a more diverse mix of officers.
This article originally appeared on Independent.