Ethnic profiling (differential policing behaviour)

When a decision to stop an individual is motivated solely or mainly by virtue of a person's race, ethnicity or religion, this constitutes discriminatory ethnic profiling. Such practices can serve to alienate certain communities in the EU, and in turn can contribute to inefficient policing.

At a very general level profiling involves categorising individuals according to their characteristics, whether these are ‘unchangeable’ (such as gender, age, ethnicity, height) or ‘changeable’ (such as habits, preferences and other elements of behaviour). Individuals are frequently categorised in this way by insurance companies to assess premium payments according to risks (e.g. smokers may be more likely to have health complications and may therefore be charged higher premiums for health insurance) and by marketing companies to determine which products to advertise (e.g. supermarket loyalty cards may reveal shopping patterns of an individual who then receives details of special offers relating to products that they frequently purchase).