Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 11:06 UK

Police defend Muslim dress scheme

Left to right: Sgt Deb Leonard, PCSO Helen Turner and Sgt Deb Pickering
The officers said they were stared at in the street

A police force has been accused of wasting time after three officers spent the day dressed as Muslim women in an attempt to improve community relations.

The officers dressed in traditional clothing and spent the day in Sheffield city centre with four Muslim women.

The scheme has been described as a "politically correct gimmick" and a "dressing-up game" by critics.

South Yorkshire Police said the scheme was designed to help police interact better with the Islamic community.

The officers wore brightly-coloured traditional Muslim outfits and a full-length black jilbab plus a niqab, which covers the face leaving slits for eyes.

South Yorkshire Police said the officers attracted "quite a few stares in the street, particularly from young children".

A group of Muslim women were also invited into police cells, a CCTV control room and shown other daily duties of a police officer as part of the "In Your Shoes" initiative.

I have gained an appreciation and understanding of what Muslim females experience when they walk out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs
Sgt Deb Leonard

Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "This is an absurd diversion from real policing.

"People want the police out catching criminals, not indulging in politically correct gimmicks.

"The police are overstretched as it is without officers being paid to do other things than their real job."

Douglas Murray, director of British extremism think-tank the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "Like most people who have been a victim of crime, I am amazed and flabbergasted that they have solved all the crimes so they can spend a day playing dressing-up games."

A police spokesman said said the aim of the scheme was for police officers to "interact with the Muslim community, learn about the Islamic faith and better understand their issues and the perceptions of local people".

Sgt Deb Leonard, who wore some of the clothing, said: "I have gained an appreciation and understanding of what Muslim females experience when they walk out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Dress code dentist can practise
03 Jul 09 |  Manchester
College bars visitor wearing veil
30 Jun 09 |  Lancashire
Shop raid prompts Muslim veil ban
27 Apr 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific