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Monday, 16 June 2008

Sikh, and you shall find a £100,000 bill for the taxpayer

West Midlands Police, that bastion of political correctness, have allowed a hundred grand to be spent on trying to source helmets to fit in with the religious demands of Sikh officers.

Sikhs believe they have to wear a turban and have a long beard. Goodness knows why, but there it is. According to the Daily Mail, instead of telling one officer that he couldn't join the counterterrorist Operational Support Group unless he cut his beard to an acceptable length and took off his turban because the usual helmet didn't fit, they told him to try to source suitable head gear.

He'd been refused a place because there wasn't a suitable helmet or respirator that would fit over his turban. The unnamed constable, thought to be in his twenties, claimed he was being discriminated against. But he was "then assigned the task – while on full pay – of sourcing new equipment that would fit", says the paper. He contacted manufacturers across the world, but it was all in vain, and, after 18 months, he was restored to regular duties.

Then he's said to have gone on long-term leave suffering from stress. The Mail's source says it cost £100,000 and was "a shocking waste of taxpayers' cash".

The West Midlands force is quoted as saying, "'No Sikh officer has applied and been 'turned down' from joining the Operational Support Unit because of faith issues. However, it has been identified that for some members of the Sikh faith, the removal of the turban to wear a helmet and the wearing of a respirator could be problematic.

"As an employer committed to equality and diversity, we are working to try [to] find a solution to what is a national issue."

At more public expense, no doubt.

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