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Is there evidence or indication that the police force engages in ethnic profiling?

Key Area:
Policing - Law Enforcement - Justice
Racism, Discrimination
09/01/2012 - 17:30
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

As there is no data collection system enabling individuals to document how frequently they were checked by the police (as recommended by the ECRI [European Commission against Racism and Intolerance] report) there is no reliable data on the engagement of police officers in ethnic profiling. The third and the fourth ECRI reports recommend "that a system be introduced that would make it possible to gauge the extent of such practices, with a view to improve the standards where necessary" (ECRI 2010, p. 42).

However, it appears from NGO reports that ethnic profiling is still going on in Austria. Amnesty international writes in its report "Victims or Suspects - A question of colour. Racial Discrimination in the Austrian Justice System" that "There is considerable evidence to suggest that the Austrian police has engaged in widespread discriminatory ethnic profiling over the past decade, particularly in its efforts to counter drug-related crime. However, anti-racism NGOs, community leaders and many individual members of ethnic minorities spoken to by Amnesty International considered that its use had decreased over the last two years. The most common form of ethnic profiling reported in Austria consists of random identity checks and searches of foreign-looking individuals, especially young black men. (...) Amnesty International is concerned, however, that, in everyday practice, skin colour too often appears to constitute a determining ground for police interventions in Austria." (p. 34)

The NGO ZARA reported many cases of police interventions indicating the practice of ethnic profiling in its annual reports. ZARA is concerned that these practices are contributing to increase the mistrust of the police and hamper the establishment of a good cooperation between police forces and persons concerned (ZARA Report 2010, p. 22).


Groups affected/interested Migrants, Refugees, Muslims, Ethnic minorities, Asylum seekers
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, Arabophobia, Inter-ethnic
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement
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