Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 15:54 UK

10,000 payout for turban row Pc

Pc Gurmeal Singh
Pc Gurmeal Singh was asked to remove his turban during riot training

A Sikh police officer has been awarded £10,000 in compensation after he was ordered to remove his turban for riot training by Greater Manchester Police.

An employment tribunal ruled Gurmeal Singh, 31, had been subject to "indirect discrimination" and harassment.

The tribunal had been told a sergeant asked Pc Singh: "Can you take that thing off?"

Judge Murray Creed said this was a "violation" of his "dignity".

He was awarded £3,500 for indirect discrimination and £6,500 for harassment after suffering psychological damage, injury to feelings and personal injury, the tribunal ruled.

The officer, who joined Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in 2004, is a baptised and practising Sikh and it is against his religion to remove his turban in public or modify it.

I'm looking to return to work and see how GMP accommodate me
Gurmeal Singh

He said he suffered panic attacks, stress and palpitations and had to go off sick from work over the issue during a long-running dispute with his employers.

Out of the officer's 15 grievances, two were ruled in his favour: Harassment from a superior and "indirect discrimination" because the rules around the riot training lacked "clarity".

Pc Singh is still employed by the force on "recuperative duties" but hopes to return to full operational duties.

He was also awarded payment for loss of earnings of £1,914 and, including interest on the award, the total amount he will receive is £12,636.

Speaking after the hearing Pc Singh said: "I'm just pleased, really pleased, that it is all over.

"I'm looking to return to work and see how GMP accommodate me."

Uniform recommendation

The officer said he would be donating 10% of the award to a children's charity.

During the hearing it emerged there was confusion within GMP, which has three Sikh officers out of almost 13,000 staff, about the policy on turbans.

Pc Singh was told at various points he would not have to do the riot training, only to be told by others that it was mandatory.

Awarding the compensation, Judge Creed said that GMP should amend its police uniform and equipment policy to take into account the requirement of Sikh officers.

Julia Rogers, GMP's assistant chief officer, said: "We felt we acted in the officer's best interests, but accept the findings from this tribunal and have already updated the policies this relates to."

She said the force would be working with the newly formed British Police Sikh Association in an effort to resolve any ongoing issues.



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