People with an ethnic minority background are more likely to be stopped for Dutch police checks than white natives, according to a report by Amnesty International.
The report says the police commonly use ethnic profiling in what it terms ‘proactive controls’ in which people are searched or have their identity checked without being suspected of a crime.
The use of ethnic profiling has damaged confidence in the police and made it more difficult to combat crime, the Amnesty report states.
‘The police are expected to work more proactively and ethnic minorities are more likely to be seen as a risk or suspect,’ Amnesty Nederland director Eduard Nazarski said in a statement. ‘This means they are more likely to be checked or searched.’
‘This does not always need to be discriminatory, but it is if there is no objective justification for it,’ Nazarski said.
But if people feel they are being checked simply on the grounds of the colour of their skin or ethnicity, this damages the relationship between minorities and the police and will ultimately make it more difficult to solve crimes,’ he said.
For example: ‘You cannot assume a woman of African appearance in an expensive housing area is a cleaner,’ researcher Gerbrig Klos told Nos television.
The government should speak out against ethnic profiling and improve police training to try to stop discriminatory behaviour, the report concludes.
Introducing registration procedures for stop and search operations and police traffic checks would also be a useful monitor, Nazarski said.
In a reaction, the national police force said people are only checked on the basis of their ethnicity in incidental controls.
‘The key to police work is differentiating between right and wrong,’ police chief Gerard Bouman told the NRC. ‘Police officers look for behaviour which is different and that depends on a lot of factors, such as location, time and age, but also the appearance or behaviour of someone, or the type of car.’
Recent developments in a neighbourhood also have an impact, he said. ‘All sorts of factors can be decisive in deciding whether to speak to this or that person.’
Earlier this month, a Council of Europe commission said the Netherlands needs to do more to tackle racism in Dutch society and should draw up a national strategy to combat racial discrimination.
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