Fasting on the Frontline: Muslim response cop gives Ramadan insight

One of our Muslim officers has spoken of observing Ramadan while working on the frontline of policing − and how he once broke his fast with a swig of water after chasing down a crime suspect.

Sergeant Luke Shah is a response cop answering 999 emergency calls for help from the public across Birmingham.

And that doesn’t change during the holy month when Luke, like all practising Muslims, fasts between sunrise and sunset. 

Luke got his passion for policing during visits to see family in Karachi
Luke got his passion for policing during visits to see family in Karachi

It means that the 30-year-old − who joined us five years ago following two years working as a volunteer Special − doesn’t eat or drink anything during daylight hours between 12 April and 12 May.

Luke is giving an insight into his police work during Ramadan in a BBC One Show feature called Fasting on the Frontline that’s due to air on 4 May.

He said: “On occasions I’ve ended up breaking fast with a swig of water having just chased down and arrested a crime suspect or having done a blue light run to an emergency. 

“Police work comes first so as long as I get to open my fast with anything at all, I’m happy to continue working or dealing with any incident.

“People ask me ‘how do you work a busy shift without food or drink’? 

Luke is one of four Muslim officers on his unit
Luke is one of four Muslim officers on his unit

“To be honest it really doesn’t bother or affect me. As long as I’m disciplined and plan for Ramadan I’m able to handle the physical and mental demands of being a police officer alongside the fasting and religious observation.

“I start planning mentally for it weeks ahead. And when Holy Month starts I adapt my meals to include things like oats in the morning for slow release energy through the day."

PS Shah − who has an Irish mother and Pakistani father − got his passion for policing during visits to see family in Karachi where several uncles worked for the city police force.

He’s one of four Muslim officers on his response unit based in Newtown and they support each other by opening or breaking fasts together when shift patterns allow.

Luke added: “I work three shift patterns: 7am-4pm, 1.30pm-11pm and 10pm-7am. The early shift is the toughest because I get up at around 4am to pray and eat before trying to get a bit more sleep before starting work.

“But there’s a solidarity in the team, among everyone not just Muslim officers, and colleagues help out wherever they can to accommodate us if needed during the holy month."

Last year, West Midlands Police was named one of the country’s most inclusive employers having been ranked second overall in the Top 50 UK Employers List.

The league table sees some of the UK’s leading companies and public sector bodies judged by a panel of experts on their performance in a range of areas within the diversity arena. 

Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby from our Diversity & Inclusion team, said: “We understand how important Ramadhan is to our Muslim colleagues and so we want to ensure we can support them through the holy month wherever we can. 

“This may include annual leave or time off, or flexible working patterns or changes to refreshment breaks to coincide with fasting opening and closing times or rearranging training courses which may have an adverse impact on colleague’s welfare due to fasting."

Want to follow in Luke’s footsteps? We’re recruiting… come and join us!

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