British police could soon allow Muslim women officers to wear a burka on the beat in a bid to boost recruiting from ethnic minority communities.
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said it would consider requests from officers who want to wear the religious garment that covers the body and face.
Some forces already allow Muslim women to wear hijabs on the job – a headscarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face visible.
London’s Metropolitan Police and police in Scotland first permitted the hijab to be worn more than a decade ago.
There are no known police officers wearing a burka, however.
“We would need to consider our own rules and cultural sensitivity,” the West Midlands Police spokeswoman said.
“But if an approach was made we would consider the request,” she said.
West Midlands Police want 30 percent of its new recruits to come from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to reflect the wider community, which incorporates the UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham.
Only 9 percent of the force’s officers are currently from BAME communities.
Chief constable David Thomas said that the force had recruited a small number of Muslim women who want to wear the hijab, the Birmingham Mail reports.
The force already allows certain religious exemptions from the standard uniform, such as one allowing Sikhs to wear a turban instead of standard issue headgear.
West Midlands Police are launching a major recruitment drive in a bid to fill 1,100 new vacancies, 800 of which are for frontline police officers.
The decision to consider allowing police officers to wear burkas stands in stark contrast with French cities, several of which have attempted to ban full-body swimwear known as the “burkini,” which is worn by some Muslim women adhering to ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam.
France’s highest administrative court suspended the ban after footage emerged of armed police officers ordering a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice to remove her bukini.
Dozens of activists protested outside the French embassy in London to oppose the controversial ban.