Sikh police seek front line service in UK
Sikh police in the UK are calling for the development of protective turbans so they can serve alongside colleagues who put their lives on the line.
The newly formed British Sikh Police Association (BSPA) wants “ballistic” turbans introduced to free its members up for the entire range of police duties.
At present these officers adhere to the religious commitment of wearing a cloth turban and being unable to wear regulation helmets has precluded them from some front line duties.
Protective headgear would allow them to serve as firearms officers and to be more involved with public order policing, says the association, which was formed at the end of April to give Sikh officers an official voice. In the UK there are thought to be 500 Sikh officers – with turbaned officers ranking up to inspector, chief inspector and superintendent – plus 1500 other Sikh staff.
BSPA chairman Kashmira Singh Mann, a sergeant with Thames Valley Police in Slough, Berkshire, hopes the police authorities will push ahead with research into new materials for turbans, which he said is already under way.
He told the BBC that Sikh officers were frustrated when they saw colleagues putting their lives on the line and could not join them.
The BSPA was launched at Thames Valley headquarters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire. Its aim is to raise the profile of Sikh officers, support and advise them on career issues, give them a recognised voice and strengthen the bridge that already exists between the police and the Sikh community.
The association says it will work towards assisting the police to develop strategies to recruit, retain and progress Sikh officers at all levels of the service.
It also wants to promote an understanding of the Sikh faith and Sikh values of democracy, equality and justice – and to promote social cohesion and integration.
This is seen as vitally important in the context of a world where Sikh communities became the innocent targets of hate campaigns by bigots who ignorantly associated them with the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001.
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