Amsterdam’s stop and search trial in doubt after police break guidelines


The future of Amsterdam’s stop and search programme to try to stop violent youth crime is in doubt after a major blunder by the city’s police force.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema gave city police the power to carry out stop and search operations ‘on an experimental basis’ in five areas of the city, despite the concerns of many councillors. The trial was allowed to go ahead on the condition people were outside and chosen at random.

In total, 25 such operations were planned between October and the end of December and the 10th was due to take place on Friday. The aim was to show that stop and search could be used to reduce violent crime.

However, earlier this month, police carried out a search operation on youngsters at a youth centre in the city’s Nieuw West district, against all agreements with city officials.

The centre is used by youngsters with a mainly Moroccan background who need help and, according to the Parool, see it as a sanctuary. The centre’s staff played a major roll in keeping youngsters off the streets during the recent rioting.

Other searches took place outside the designated areas.

Two of the city’s three coalition parties oppose stop and search, because of the risk of ethnic profiling, as do most of the opposition. Councillors have now called for an emergency debate on Thursday to discuss the future of the experiment

Control Alt Delete, an organisation campaigning for an end to racial profiling, said the results generated by stop and search procedures in other cities are low.

In Rotterdam, the organisation points out, police searched over 10,000 people in 2017 and found just 147 knives. ‘That means just 1.5% of checks produced a result,’ the organisation said.

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