HERTFORDSHIRE police have recruited two Humanist advisers in the same week Pagan police officers were officially recognised by the Home Office.

The constabulary's chaplaincy team, which advises and supports police officers has recruited Pam Burn and Ray Owen, who both have extensive experience in counselling through volunteer work with the Samaritans.

Ms Burn said: “Police officers and staff play a vital role in our communities and we are very pleased to support them through our work.”

They join a support team made up of a variety of belief groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Pagan.

Superintendant Simon Hawkins, lead for faith, religion and belief, said: “It is vital that we support our police officers and staff, and that they have a choice that is compatible with their religion, belief or faith.

“Diversity is very much about respecting each others’ differences, and the chaplaincy has a key role to play when supporting our people and offering an independent ear to listen to their issues or concerns.”

Humanism is a religion based on reason not faith, which does not depend on a god or gods, and believes science provides the only reliable source of knowledge in the universe.

Last week a media storm gathered around the news that Pagan Police officers were given the right to take time off, in order to celebrate the eight annual pagan festivals.

The Pagan Police Association joins other “diversity staff support associations” which represent female, black, gay, Muslim and disabled officers.

Hemel Hempstead PC Andrew Pardy, vice-chairman of the Pagan Police Association, said the Police Service needs to embrace paganism “in order to represent communities effectively.”

In the 2001 census, 42,262 people from England, Scotland and Wales declared themselves Pagans, making it the 7th largest religion.