Pagan police given Halloween holiday

Pagan police officers are being allowed to take up to eight days holiday a year to observe Pagan festivals such as Halloween and the summer solstice.

One force allows Pagan staff to change around their traditional bank holidays to fit with the Pagan calendar.

The same force has also appointed two Pagan chaplains.

The changes came as the Home Office agreed to the establishment of a Pagan Police Association.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The Government wants a police service that reflects the diverse communities it serves.”

Pagan practices include witchcraft, druidism and wiccan worship.

PC Andy Pardy, a Pagan neighbourhood beat officer in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, was one of the officers involved in setting up the association.

He told Police Review: “Paganism is not the new age, tree-hugging fad that some people think it is.

“It is not the clandestine, horrible, evil thing that people think it is. A lot of people think it is about dancing naked around a fire.

“But the rituals involve chanting, music and meditation. For Pagans, the practices are seen to have the same power as prayer does for Christians.”

Superintendent Simon Hawkins of Hertfordshire Police said: “While balancing operational needs, the force’s religion and beliefs policy gives all staff the choice of re-allocating the traditional Christian bank holiday festivals to suit their personal faith.

“This has been very well received from a number of faith groups, including Muslim and Jewish.”

“The force strives to provide a receptive environment for all its staff and our faith work stream is a positive example of our commitment to meet the diverse needs of all who work for us and the public we serve”, he added.

A Home Office spokesman commented: “It is down to individual forces to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the religion or beliefs of individual officers, as far as operational requirements permit.”

PC Andy Hill of Staffordshire Police, a practicing wiccan witch, is setting up a website dedicated to all Wicca-related policing matters.

Constable Hill insists: “Wiccan has always been a bit of a taboo religion, there are lots of misconceptions about it. This is nothing to do with black magic or devil worshipping. Witchcraft is not the hocus pocus, puff of smoke, turning people into frogs stuff you see on television.”

The Office of National Statistics reported that there were 31,000 practising Pagans in England and Wales in 2001. The same survey also reported 390,000 Jedis.

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