New Zealand Police introduces hijabs as part of official uniform

The first officer to wear the covering was also involved in the design process

New Zealand Police has introduced the hijab into its official uniform for the first time, in a bid to encourage more Muslim women to join its ranks.

The specially created navy head covering will be available to female Muslim recruits, with Constable Zeena Ali the first officer to wear the attire.

The police officer was even invited to take part in the development process of the hijab to ensure it was user-friendly.

Diversity is essential so that we can effectively serve the needs of New Zealand's communities now and in the future

"Having a police-branded hijab means women who may not have previously considered policing can do so now," Ali, 30, said in a statement. "It’s great how the police incorporated my religion and culture."

The officer was inspired to join New Zealand's national police service after the Christchurch terror attack of March 2019, in which an armed man stormed two mosques in the South Island city and killed 51 worshippers.

"It was when I was just training to get into police that the Christchurch terror attack happened, and if I was a fully fledged constable then I would have gone down to support the victims and their families," she added.

New Zealand Police said work to develop the hijab began in 2018 in response to a request from police staff after making school visits.

"We recognise the value different perspectives and experiences bring to making us better at what we do," the police service told the New Zealand Herald.

"We need people with a range of skills, backgrounds and experience levels –diversity is essential so that we can effectively serve the needs of New Zealand's communities now and in the future."

According to New Zealand Police, Ali's wing, which graduated this month with 76 new officers, is made up of 51.3 per cent women, with 48.7 per cent coming from a non-European background.

The country's police service also introduced a turban into the uniform for male officers in 2008.