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Police Scotland to adopt ‘hijab’ uniform policy to improve BME recruitment

Police Scotland to adopt ‘hijab’ uniform policy to improve BME recruitment

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday June 07 2016

The Daily Record reports on Police Scotland’s efforts to increase BME recruitment to Scotland’s police force by adopting a ‘uniform hijab’.

The paper notes the force has identified 650 candidates which would need to be recruited to bring BME officer numbers on par with the proportion of ethnic minorities in the Scottish population.

Police Scotland are looking at ways to address “unnecessary obstacles” to BME recruitment including officer uniforms. In a bid to improve the number of Muslim women applying for positions, the force has tested a hijab for adoption as police uniform.

Peter Blair, head of resource management at the force, said: “Police Scotland is committed to working with communities to encourage under-represented groups to consider policing as a career. Part of this involves removing unnecessary barriers, which include considerations about the officers’ uniform.

“As a result, work has been undertaken to source a uniform hijab. Such a hijab is worn by many officers in police forces in England and across the world and Police Scotland is keen to replicate this good practice.”

Figures released on BME applications in 2015/2016 show that only 127 were received, representing 2.6% of the total number of applications in that year. Police Scotland employs around 17,000 officers of whom just 175 identify as being from BME backgrounds, an exceedingly low figure when comparing against Scotland’s ethnic minority population which stands at 4%.

An editorial in The Scotsman today welcoming the news, states: “No-one would claim it is an overnight solution to such a deep-rooted problem but it is symbolically significant and, in time, could help usher in a much-needed shift in perception.”

The editorial further notes that the Metropolitan Police adopted a uniform hijab 15 years ago with Police Scotland only just catching up.

Diversity in policy recruitment is a major issue with force’s adopting strategies, such as the employment of Positive Action Co-ordinators and targeted recruitment drives, in order to increase BME officer numbers. It follows data released last year showing thelow level of BME representation in certain force areas with no local constabulary reflecting the makeup of the population it serves. Forces such as the Metropolitan Police, have introduced new recruitment strategies to attract BME applicants with some success.

The Conservative government has made diversity in police recruitment one of the five key targets in the 2020 strategy, alongside increasing BME recruitment on the Armed Forces.

With greater scrutiny of police use of stop and search powers and the availability of online data on stops and search by constabulary, community policing is undergoing positive transformation in some aspects. But with the Prevent strategy a sticking point for relations between police forces and their local Muslim populations, a problem envisaged to worsen with the Government’s plans to proceed with the introduction of the Counter Extremism and Safeguarding Bill, increasing police diversity comes at a critical time.


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