Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 15:57 UK

Sikh police want ballistic turban

Sgt Kashmira Singh Mann
The restriction is frustrating for Sikh officers, says Kashmira Singh Mann.

Sikh police want bulletproof turbans to be developed so they can serve as firearms officers and deal with public order, a newly-formed body says.

The British Sikh Police Association says Sikh officers cannot currently do such jobs, as their religion prohibits removing turbans to wear helmets.

But the organisation's chairman says he now intends to push for more research on suitable ballistic turban material.

The Home Office said each force needed to ensure religions were accommodated.

The British Sikh Police Association, set up last month to give Sikh officers across the UK an "officially recognised voice", said it wanted its members to play a full role in the police.

'Frustration'

Sgt Kashmira Singh Mann, chairman of the association, told the BBC News website bulletproof turbans would allow such officers to abide by religious traditions as well as participate in all areas of the police service.

"We are looking at the issue because it stops Sikh officers serving in all roles," said the Thames Valley Police officer who is based in Slough, Berkshire.

"It is a frustration for them - we see our colleagues putting their lives on the line and we want to serve alongside them."

He said research had already begun to find a ballistic material for turbans, but that it would need to be passed by the Home Office before it could be used.

It is down to individual forces to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the religion of individual officers
Home Office

"We have put some feelers out and talks are on the agenda," he added.

The new association aims to support Sikh members of the service - said to number some 2,000 - and help forces to develop strategies to recruit, retain and progress Sikh officers and staff.

The Metropolitan Police Service and West Midlands Police have the largest number of Sikh staff.

West Midlands Police last year denied spending £100,000 on trying to adapt safety helmets to fit over turbans.

However, it said it had been working to solve the headgear issue, which it described as "problematic".

On the issue of bulletproof turbans, a Home Office spokeswoman said the government wanted a police service that "reflected the diverse communities it served".

"The more closely the police service reflects the people it serves, the more effectively it can protect and support that community," she said.

"It is down to individual forces to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the religion of individual officers," she added.



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