BC Sheriff Services Develop Guidelines to Accommodate Sikh Turban

Victoria (March 22, 2011):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is pleased to announce that British Columbia Sheriff Services has developed guidelines regarding the wearing of turbans to accommodate the religious beliefs of Sikhs taken into sheriff custody.  The new guidelines were developed in consultation with the World Sikh Organization of Canada and came into force in March, 2011.

According to the new guidelines, turbaned Sikhs taken into sheriff custody will be photographed and permitted to wear the turban in-custody unless the sheriffs have reason to believe that an individual is violent or suicidal or that the continued wearing of the turban would endanger that individual or others.  All persons who are taken into sheriff’s custody wearing a turban will however be first required to remove the turban so that it can be searched, and subject to the conditions noted above, the turban will be returned to its owner after searching, without any pins or combs. 

The new guidelines are a significant step in accommodating the turban, an important Sikh article of faith, while ensuring standards of safety and security are maintained. 

WSO General Counsel Palbinder Kaur Shergill said, “We were made aware of concerns in the community about the accommodation of the turban for individuals who are taken into custody by BC Sheriff Services and we believe that those concerns are adequately addressed by this new policy.”

As it has for the past 26 years, WSO will continue working on behalf of the community to ensure that Canadian Sikhs can freely practice their religion and wear their articles of faith. 

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status

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