Outcry after police officers dress up as Muslim women

A YORKSHIRE police force has been accused of wasting time and public money after sending three officers out to spend a day dressed as Muslim women.

The two sergeants and a community support officer dressed in traditional Islamic costumes including burkha, jilbab, hijab and niqab. Two wore garb with narrow eye slits and a third wore a head scarf.

Sgt Deb Leonard, Sgt Deb Pickering and PC Helen Turner were accompanied by four Muslim women in Sheffield as part of a scheme called In Your Shoes Day, designed to help South Yorkshire Police learn about the Muslim faith and understand their issues.

But the day was attacked as a "complete waste or police time " by several organisations.

Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion said:" You just couldn't make it up. The victims of crime must be amazed that the police have so much time on their hands that they can spend a day playing dress-up .

"This is a complete waste of police time and taxpayers' money. It's not their job to be going round dressing up. It's another indication that the police in this country are having a nervous breakdown and have been having one for the past 10 years.

"It's not the duty of police to empathise with particular sections of the community. It is the duty of the police to prevent crime and catch criminals."

Sid Cordle, Sheffield-based Yorkshire regional organiser of the Christian People's Alliance said: "My major concern is that the police are using tax payers money in order to go around in Muslim clothing.

"As far as we are concerned this form of dress is a symbol of oppression of women. The Koran clearly says a man is superior to a woman. This symbol of oppression is unwanted in our society and the police should not be encouraging it."

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is an absurd diversion from real policing. People want the police out catching criminals, not indulging in politically correct gimmicks.

"The police are overstretched as it is without officers being paid to do other things than their real job."

A South Yorkshire Police Spokeswoman said: "This exercise is just one of many activities South Yorkshire Police have planned with communities and ethnic minority leaders to secure strong relationships, celebrate diversity and encourage integration, working towards a safer, closer society.

"Two of the Muslim women anticipated that people may stare and possibly make comment, whilst the police officers entered this exercise with an open mind not knowing quite what to expect.

"At the start of the day officers were dressed in traditional Muslim outfits, which drew admiring glances from people walking by and a reaction from a group in a passing car who were questioning what the group were doing.

"The officers then changed into their full-length black coloured Jilbab, Hijab and Niqab (traditional Muslim attire).

"As the women entered a shop they believed they were being monitored by security staff, although whether this was due to them simply being conscious of their appearance or whether they actually were being watched wasn't clear.

"They also managed to attract quite a few stares in the street, particularly from young children, but again, whether their curiosity was based on admiration, confusion, or anything else, wasn't clear - something which Muslim women would have to encounter and contemplate as a regular part of their lives."

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