Amsterdam police present anti-ethnic profiling plan; already criticized

Dutch police officer
Dutch police officer. (Photo: Joeppoulssen/DepositPhotos)

The Amsterdam police drew up a "Plan of Action" to reduce ethnic profiling in the Dutch capital. The plan will be discussed in the Amsterdam city council on Thursday evening, but is already being criticized by the D66 and GroenLinks, Het Parool reports.

Ethnic profiling - the police stopping people based on their race, ethnicity, skin color, language or religion without justification - is "illegal, degrading and does not fit with the values of the police organization", the Amsterdam police wrote in their plan, according to the newspaper. "That it happens, and that it leads to feelings of exclusion, powerlessness and shame, has amply been demonstrated."

To reduce ethnic profiling, the Amsterdam police will invest in its officers' knowledge, attitude and behavior. All Amsterdam cops will attend a "professional check" workshop. Each police team must draw up and submit an implementation plan on how to perform professional checks without ethnic profiling by July 1st. Professionally performing random checks will also become a permanent part of the police's half-yearly results discussions. Designated officers will make sure that ethnic profiling is prevented in practice. And the Amsterdam police will conduct research among citizens into their perception of ethnic profiling - how often are they checked by the cops and do they trust the police?

The fight against ethnic profiling involves "a cultural change that will take some time", the Amsterdam police wrote in its Plan of Action. Progress will be monitored by analyzing the MEOS app, which allows officers to request the personal data of someone they stopped to check, among other things. 

The lack of measurement of how often ethnic profiling occurs is the main criticism the D66 and GroenLinks have on the police plan. The MEOS app is currently only available to a handful of Amsterdam cops, as an experiment. "Because this plan of action does not provide for measurement, you do not know how many unjustified checks the police are carrying out and therefore you cannot know whether you are reducing the problem", Femke Roosma, GroenLinks leader in Amsterdam, said to the newspaper. She calls for the MEOS to be rolled out to all officers more quickly.

Until the problem of ethnic profiling is measurable, the D66 wants the police to temporarily suspend all proactive random checks in Amsterdam, Amsterdam faction leader Reinier van Dantzig said to the newspaper. "We are considering a motion on that."

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