Two sergeants and a community support officer dressed in head-to-foot burkhas and other traditional clothing and went out shopping. Meanwhile a group of Muslim women were invited into police cells, a CCTV control room and shown other daily duties of a police officer.

The move was part of a police initiative dubbed “In Your Shoes” taking place in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. But it has attracted strong criticism from onlookers. Matthew Elliott, 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.”

Sergeant Deb Leonard, who wore some of the clothing, described her experience in a South Yorkshire Police in-house magazine. “I have gained an appreciation and understanding of what Muslim females experience when they walk out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs. We are keen to gain a better understanding of issues which our communities face.”

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