Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 16:08 UK

New association for Sikh police

Sgt Kashmira Singh Mann
Sgt Kashmira Singh Mann says the association will help recruit Sikh staff

A new police association has been formed to give Sikh officers across the UK an "officially recognised voice".

The British Sikh Police Association (BSPA) aims to help forces recruit, retain and progress Sikh staff.

Its chair, Sgt Kashmira Singh Mann, a Thames Valley Police officer in Slough, Berkshire, said it also aimed to help police understand Sikh communities.

It is estimated there are more than 500 Sikh officers and 1,500 police staff in the UK, Thames Valley Police said.

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

The BSPA is holding a launch ceremony at the force's headquarters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, on Wednesday.

"This is an important step towards improving the profile of Sikh officers within the police and giving them an officially recognised voice, but also of improving the police's understanding of the communities it serves," Sgt Singh Mann said.

"The establishment of the BSPA, for us, represents an important move towards social cohesion and integration, just like other support networks within the police."

He said Sikh officers were in a "privileged position" in that they were "well placed to strengthen the bridge that already exists between our employer and our community and promote understanding on both sides".

Full membership of the BSPA will be open to all current members of a UK police force who are Sikhs by birth or have converted to the faith.

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