A UK police force is trialling a NZ-designed police hijab as part of its uniform.
NZ Police worked with apparel design researchers and lecturers from the School of Design at Massey University in Wellington to design the hijab product for both operational performance and cultural needs.
Leicestershire Police was so impressed with the locally-designed hijab that it’s now trialling the Massey University design for its UK staff.
Currently, its health and safety team is trialling the hijab which is being worn by trainee Constable Khadeejah Mansur (pictured), a student officer from Leicestershire Police Headquarters.
In a project which began in 2018, New Zealand Police undertook international conversations and collated samples from other Police worldwide.
The team consulted widely with Muslim women who were involved in fabric research, extensive pattern sampling, prototyping and trialling. They ran safety testing and monitored long-term wear trials to meet operational requirements.
The final product is testament to the collaborative partnership developed between New Zealand Police and lecturer-designers Deb Cumming and Nina Weaver, from Massey University, to look at the problem and identify practical solutions.
“The hijab is designed to be worn with all Police-issue headwear. It fits the head, neck and shoulder area for freedom of movement and rigorous performance with contoured panels and reinforced zones for durability, access for communication devices and a quick-release fastening system for safety reasons.
“It is made from a technical sports fabric which is light to wear, antibacterial, moisture-wicking and robust. It is available in three sizes – small, medium and large to ensure a high level of fit,” say Deb and Nina from Massey University.
Leonie Smiley from New Zealand Police Deployable Assets Advisor, Response and Operations Group says: “The reason for Police to make the hijab available as an option for uniform is so that Muslim women can consider policing as a career option and to create an inclusive Police service that reflects our diverse New Zealand community.”
New Zealand’s Constable Zeena Ali, was the first New Zealand Police officer to wear a purpose-designed hijab. She was involved in the hijab trial prior to her recruit enrolment and took part in the ongoing development process.
Zeena wore the newly signed-off Police hijab at her graduation last year (pictured above) after it was formally approved as an elective item of police uniform in November 2020.