Sikh police in riot squads will have to take off turbans
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Last Updated: Friday, April 23, 2010, 19:07
  
London: Sikh police officers in Britain will be banned from joining firearms or riot teams unless they remove their turbans and adopt a patka, according to a new police guidelines.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said Sikh officers in firearms and riot units would have to adopt a patka - a smaller piece of material - so that they could wear bullet proof helmets.

Gurpal Virdi, co-ordinator of the Met Sikh Police Association, said: "We are pleased that there is now guidance to provide clarity to Sikh police officers who wear turbans in respect of firearm and public order duties. It will ensure Sikh officers are treated with dignity and respect."

The guidance will be in force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and would be reviewed every two to three years.

There are about 2,000 Sikh police officers and staff in the UK.

Turbans were deemed unsafe because they do not fit under helmets and themselves offer insufficient protection. The association rejected the notion of designing a bullet-proof turban, but said the idea was worthy of "future exploration".

The guidance was issued after the British Sikh Police Association requested clarification on whether their officers could join firearms and public order units.

Last year, a Sikh police officer who was orered to remove his turban during riot training was awarded 10,000 pounds compensation by an employment tribunal for discrimination.

The sikh religion requires male followers to wear a turban and they do not have to wear crash helmets under the Motorcycle Crash Helmets Act 1976.

Meredydd Hughes, chief constables of South Yorkshire and the association lead on uniformed operations, stressed that Sikhs were not being discriminated against.

He told The Daily Telegraph: "The police service has a legal duty to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff. Sikh officers will not be discriminated against if they choose not to perform firearms or higher-level public order duties due to their desire to wear a turban."

The guidelines were formulated after consultation with a number of bodies, including the Black and Asian Police Association and the Health and Safety Executive.

PTI


First Published: Friday, April 23, 2010, 19:07


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