Saudi religious police chief wants female recruits
The Saudi Arabian chief of religious police has proposed that women be recruited to the force.
There is a pressing need to employ Saudi women in the areas of awareness and guidance, Sheikh Abdul Latif Aal Al Sheikh, president of the commission for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, told the Saudi Gazette.
The police, known as the mutawa, enforce dress and behaviour codes in line with the tenets of Islam.
Officers have the power to arrest those suspected of proscribed activities such as fraternising between unrelated men and women.
They also ensure businesses close during prayer times and that the country's dress code is observed.
Sheikh Abdul Latif said he hoped a recruitment drive would take place soon, adding female recruits would work under the supervision of an independent department.
Sheikh Abdul Latif was appointed to the post in January this year amid public discontent over the influence of the police.
Since taking office, he has curbed the powers of the religious police.
In his first reform after taking charge, he banned volunteers, said to number in the thousands, from serving on the force.
He has also warned his officers against harassment and has publicly dressed down those who have flouted these directives.
This month he told Al Hayat daily newspaper his force would hand over arrests and interrogations to other authorities.
Updated: October 19, 2012 04:00 AM