Focus: Racial profiling

The institutional racism of police checks and beyond
by Heiner Busch
Stops and identity checks only on the grounds of the colours of the skin or the „foreign“ appearance of persons are unconstitutional and therefore do not occur, says the German government. Police officers receive special human rights and anti-discrimination training. In the government’s and the police‘ perception, racial profiling if it ever does occur is the result of an individual abuse of power. In fact, however, it is part of the logic of police controls without reasonable suspicion and inherent to the police task to control migration. Racial profiling is not only part of police stops and controls. Ethnic minorities and immigrant communities are repeatedly conceived and treated as dangerous.

Racism in law
by akj-berlin
Even if legal norms which govern police practices are defined in an allegedly neutral manner, they can imply racist practices and therefore stabilise institutional racism. This is in particular true for legal provisions that require the police to control and contain violations of the special legislation regarding foreigners‘ right of residence. Not the wording of legal provisions which authorise police interventions is crucial. Rather the type of police mission is decisive. As long as this mission is aimed at the control of migration it will be built on racial profiling.

Checks without probable cause by the Federal Police
by Hendrik Cremer
No person must be discriminated „because … of his or her race“. This prohibition of discrimination is not only enshrined in the German constitution but also in international human rights treaties. The author shows that the provision of the Federal Police Act by which officers are entitled to stop and check „any person“ in train stations, trains and at airports without probable cause violates constitutional law and international treaties for the reason that it entails racist discrimination. In addition, it escalates racism in Germany.

Identity checks in France
by Fabien Jobard and René Lévy
The police checking IDs of members of ethnic minorities is a hot issue in France for several years. The authors report about their complex empirical research by which they could prove that the police in Paris do check IDs on a discriminatory basis: The group of checked persons differs significantly from the majority population in controlled areas. As visible characteristics (age, gender, clothing, ethnic background) correlate, it was not possible to single out the role of racist attribution exactly. Meanwhile, the government withdrew promises to limit racial profiling.

Stop and search in Britain
Interview with Rebekah Delsol (StopWatch)
Being stopped and searched by the police over and over is a humiliating experience, made in particular by members of minorities, says Rebekah Delsol. Black people are stopped and searched seven times more often than white people, Asians twice as much. This disparity does reinforce the anger and alienation of the affected communities. Moreover, it undermines the legitimacy of policing and the criminal justice system. Hence, StopWatch is calling for a fundamental reform of police powers.

Crime statistics of the Berlin police in 2012
by Angelina Weinbender
German police publish the „Police Crime Statistics“ (PKS) on an annual basis. These tables are usually presented as if they would show the extent and change of actual crime. Drawing on the example of the recent PKS of the state of Berlin, the author shows that the statistics only document the performance of the police and, thus, are also an indicator of the effects of racial profiling.

Beyond the focus

The Stasi’s new profiteers
by Heiko Stamer
During the fall of the GDR the civil rights movement saved the Stasi files from destruction in order to record the systematic abuse of human rights also for later generations. More than two decades later German and foreign police services and intelligence agencies still exploit the Stasi files intensely. The author shows to what extent former victims are re-victimised by „requests for support of investigations“.

The EU and cybercrime
by Cathleen Berger
For years the EU is concerned about threats from „cybercrime“. The vague term covers both private and state crimes as well as economically and politically motivated crimes. At the beginning of 2013 the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) was launched at Europol. The accountability of the Centre is weak, and in particular it poses the risk that the separation of the police and the intelligence services might be levied.

Deadly shots by the police in 2012
by Otto Diederichs
Official statistics about the use of guns by German police in 2012 register a total of 10,353 shots, of which 38 shots were targeting persons. Eight persons were killed and 20 were wounded. Our analysis of press reports shows that most of the casualties were people with psychiatric disorders or persons in emotional emergencies.