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Sikh police seek bulletproof turbans

May 8, 2009 by Vikram Dodd Source: www.guardian.co.uk

Sikh police officers want special bulletproof turbans to be developed so they can serve in firearms units, according to the new British Police Sikh Association.

The Sikh religion requires its male followers to wear the turban, but existing police safety helmets do not fit on top of them.

Insp Gian Singh Chahal, vice-chairman of the British Police Sikh Association, said the Home Office needed to make provision for Sikhs and recognise that they had a role to play.

He told Police Review: "Sikh officers have been prohibited from becoming firearms officers because our religion does not allow us to remove the turban.

"There has been some research done into producing a ballistic material [for turbans]. We would like to follow any opportunity where we could manufacture a ballistic product, made out of a synthetic fibre, that would ensure a certain degree of protection, so Sikh police officers could take part in these roles.

"I think there needs to be a recognition from the Home Office that would allow Sikh officers to carry out these roles. I think the will is there from chief constables but perhaps not yet from the Home Office."

The association was launched last month to represent an estimated 2,000 Sikhs who serve in the police.

Sikhs do not have to wear crash helmets under the Motorcycle Crash Helmets (Religious Exemption) Act 1976.

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