Sunday 04 December 2022

Trust in police in Schilderswijk remains low two years after riots

Police badge and radio.


More than two years after riots broke out in The Hague’s ethnically mixed Schilderswijk district, distrust of the police remains widespread among young people living in the area, according to new research.

Researchers for the Haagse Hoogeschool found that relations in the community had improved, but deep-seated problems remained. Young residents accused police of discrimination, ethnic profiling and failing to listen, though they took a more positive view of local community officers.

Since the death of Mitch Henriquez in the city’s Zuiderpark in July 2014, after he was placed in a choke hold while being arrested, police have changed their working practices in the area, with fewer ID checks in the street and more efforts to connect with the community.

‘That’s what the young people say in their interviews, but they are still very negative about the police,’ researcher Carina Duijndam told NOS. ‘Their impression doesn’t change quickly.

‘They feel like second-class citizens. Every white person they see is a policeman or a journalist who’s writing something bad about the area, or a teacher dishing out punishments. There is a huge divide between society and the neighbourhood.’

The researchers, who spoke to 50 young residents before and after the riots, said the best way to improve community relations was to make the police force more representative of the area’s ethnic diversity.

The Hague’s police division said it had undertaken a range of initiatives in recent years to improve community relations and awareness among its officers, but it would study the research to see if further measures were needed.

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