Controversial Sikh Turbans Banned From Armed Police Operations

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Sikh turbans banned from armed police operations


BBC News - Sikh turbans banned from armed police operations

Sikh police officers who wear turbans cannot join firearms teams, following a ruling from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).[/B]
Officers can choose instead to wear a smaller head covering known as a patka, which will fit under a helmet.

The Acpo guidance follows consultations with the Home Office and a range of police associations representing Sikhs.

In 2009, a tribunal awarded £10,000 to a Sikh officer who was ordered to remove his turban during riot training.


The British Sikh Police Association asked for a clarification from Acpo following the award, and proposed a "ballistic turban" that would provide head protection.

Acpo opted against the ballistic turban approach but said the idea was worth "future exploration".

'No discrimination'
"The police service has a legal duty to consider the health and safety of staff at work and provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff who are placed in high risk situations," said Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, Acpo's head of uniformed operations.

As a result, Sikh officers will only be permitted to engage in armed operations if they remove their turbans or wear the smaller patka head covering to permit the use of a helmet for protection.

Chief Constable Hughes said that wearing a patka was "a matter of choice for the police officer", adding that "Sikh officers who wear a turban will not be discriminated against if they choose not to perform firearms or higher-level public order duties".

'Treated with fairness'

Gurpal Virdi, office co-ordinator for the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association, welcomed the clarification.

"Supervising officers had no idea how to deal with Sikh officers before; there was no guidance," he told BBC News.

"Some Sikh officers were being discriminated against, especially in rural constabularies.

"The guidance now makes clear how Sikh officers should be treated with fairness."
 

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spnadmin

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This is a related story with additional clarifications that seemed to be useful.

UK:Sikh police must agree to take off turbans to join firearms units


Sikh police officers will only be allowed to join firearms or public order units if they agree to remove their turbans, new police guidance revealed today.


The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) announced that Sikh officers had the option of wearing a patka, a smaller head covering, under bulletproof helmets.


But turbans were deemed ‘unsafe’ because they cannot fit under helmets and provide no protection against bullets.


Protective equipment: under new police guidelines, Sikh officers can only join firearms units if they agree to remove their turbans and wear helmets


ACPO also rejected the notion of designing a bulletproof turban safety helmet made from ballistic material, but said such equipment was worthy of ‘future exploration’.


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


Last year a Sikh police officer ordered to remove his turban during riot training was awarded £10,000 compensation for discrimination and harassment by an employment tribunal.


The Sikh religion requires males to wear the turban – and they do not have to wear crash helmets under the Motorcycle Crash Helmets Act 1976.


Gurpal Virdi, co-ordinator of the Met Sikh Police Association, said he was pleased to see ACPO addressing the issue.


He said: ‘We are pleased 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, both in the Met and nationally.’



The guidance will affect all forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and be reviewed every two to three years.


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


Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police and ACPO lead on uniformed operations, stressed the ban did not mean Sikhs were being discriminated against.


He said: ‘The police service has a legal duty to consider the health and safety of staff and provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff who are placed in high-risk situations.


‘Officers who volunteer for firearms duties or higher-level public order duties must wear standard police-issue protective helmets to control specific risks associated with these duties.


‘There is, however, an option for Sikh officers who wear a turban to wear a patka under specialist helmets. This is a matter of choice for the police officer.


‘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 observe the wearing of a turban.
‘This guidance exists to balance the needs of the police service with the needs of Sikh police officers who wear a turban.’


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


Officials also sent a confidential anonymous online survey to 400 Sikh police officers, to which more than 300 replied.
 

jeevandeep

SPNer
Oct 7, 2009
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Sikh's in the Indian Armed forces wear the Patka's under combat situations. We do find helmets as a part of the Armour worn during the earlier Sikh period.
 
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