Pagan police officers in Britain have been given the right to take eight days off work a year to celebrate “religious holidays” including Hallowe’en and the summer solstice.
It follows the setting up of a Pagan Police Association to represent officers who worship nature and believe in many gods.
Pc Andy Pardy, a leading Pagan officer from Hertfordshire Police, met with Home Office officials this week to push for more recognition for pagan officers.
The neighbourhood beat manager, who has been an officer for the past seven years, is a heathen which means he worships Norse gods, including the hammer-wielding Thor, the one-eyed Odin and Freyr, the god of fertility.
Pc Pardy told Police Review magazine: “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 are not like that.
“It involves chanting, music, meditation, reading passages and for pagans the practices are seen to have the same power as prayer does for Christians. Most pagans practice some kind of conservation work as well to give something back to the planet.”
Hertfordshire Police allows Pc Pardy the eight pagan holidays off each year, including Hallowe’en, which signifies the Pagan new year, and the summer solstice in June.
The days are deducted from his annual leave but because of his religion the days off are set in stone.
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.”