With the summer solstice fast approaching, last week we learned that the Pagan Police Association had been granted official recognition by the Home Office as a ‘diversity group’ that gives them the same status as gay, black, disabled and other minority groups within the police force. The upshot of this recognition is that they we be entitled to take time off to celebrate their religious festivals like any other religious group.
Currently the association, co-founded by Andy Pardy, have around 500 members but I wonder if their numbers will swell if word gets out that they can have the summer solstice and Halloween as holidays. However, as Andy points out, “”Officers can, for the first time, apply for leave on the festival dates relevant to their path, and allow them to work on other dates such as Christmas which bear no relevance to them.”
I did point out in an earlier post that there are potentially so many holidays that it could become a logistic nightmare and that in my opinion, the police force should be secular. But something else occurred to me. If I am not mistaken, officers working public holidays (which include the Christian ones such as Christmas and Easter) are entitled to overtime. So a pagan police officer would be paid overtime for working Christmas. We also recently learned that police officers’ overtime has doubled in the last 10 years despite record recruitment. I think that this is one that the new government should look at very closely with the axe about to fall very heavily on public spending. Just a thought.
Anyway, back to the pagan police – Radio 5 wanted me to go on air to join a panel to discuss the issue but I declined. I think it is an open and shut case as it were. If they recognise religious groups within the police force, then the pagans have as much right as anyone else I guess. However, I wonder if the Home Office will also recognize officers who worship the great spaghetti monster in the sky.