Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre
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Racial profiling is a form of discrimination which violates basic human rights and contributes to inefficient and ineffective policing. There is little evidence that racial profiling is an effective approach to combating crime.
Racial profiling causes alienation, exclusion, unnecessary criminalisation, disengagement, detrimental health and socio-economic impacts. Furthermore it disinhibits minority groups from reporting crimes and seeking assistance from police and generates high levels of distrust.
Victorian Police LEAP data analysed by eminent statistician, Professor Ian Gordon from the Univeristy of Melbourne in Haile-Michael & Ors v Konstantinidis & Ors revealed that between 2006-2009, Africans in the Flemington and North Melbourne area were 2.5 times more likely to be stopped by police than other groups despite having a lower crime rate.
These statistics provide evidence for the existence of racial profiling in Victoria. Qualiative research evidence across Victoria reveals racial profiling has been an ongoing problem for many years.
The justification given for such policing rests on their supposedly high representation in local crime statistics. Yet Professor Gordon found that the same police LEAP data revealed a significant under-representation of the stopped young African Australians in the crime figures. A summary of the findings are below and is available in full here.
Furthermore, overt operational orders by Victoria Police have been known to target African youth. For example the Chief Commissioner has agreed that Operation Molto in 2006 targeted African youth. Any operation that targets people for law enforcement scrutiny because of their race is racial discrimination.
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 makes it unlawful for a person to be treated differently from others on the basis of their race, religion or other characteristic.
A person's ethnicity does not make it more or less likely that they have committed or are likely to commit an offence.
Associate Professor Yin Paradies, Co-Director of the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, in Victoria presented at a Public Forum on Racial Profiling in April 2013.
His presentation, Racism, Racial Profiling and Health, in available here (PDF)
The elimination of racial profiling requires numerous strategies including:
Steps for the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police
1. Introduce best practice recruitment, training and integrity practices to screen out recruits/police officers with overt racial/religious biases;
2. Introduce training to eliminate unconscious racial/religious biases and racial/religious profiling (anti-bias training);
3. Review all outstanding operational orders (similar to Operation Molto) to remove direct or indirect discrimination.
4. Make amendments to the Victoria Police Manual Policy and Guide to require that police issue receipts and collect data on race and stop/search outcomes when people are stopped/searched on the street or in their cars and to ensure the public reporting of this data.
5. Introduce a “Youth Protocol” that:
a) acknowledges that young people have rights to privacy, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary detention and equal treatment when they are in public spaces;
b) requires that police officers only stop a young person when they have reasonable grounds to believe they have committed an offence or are a witness to an indictable offence or to prevent the commission of an offence (such as injury to a person or property damage).
6. Review training to ensure that:
a) police stops and searches are conducted in compliance with the rights to privacy, freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary detention and right to equal treatment AND are only conducted where there is a clearly defined reason to conduct the stop such as an offence has been detected OR through statutory powers as for Preliminary Breath Testing;
b) Searches by consent are only conducted where the person provides full and informed consent and evidence of the consent is obtained in writing (as required in the Victoria Police Manual).
Steps for the Victorian Government
1. Introduce legislation that:
- Inserts a non-discrimination clause in the objectives of all legislation that provides police with powers;
- Specifically makes unlawful the practice of racial profiling;
- Provides remedies for both individual and systemic racial profiling;
- Shifts the burden of proof for people with complaints of racial profiling to law enforcement agencies;
- Requires that police officers collect “specific data” to be entered into LEAP data, complete a running sheet and provide a receipt whenever they stop, question or search a person who is not under arrest. Specific data includes, race/ethnicity of the stopped person, reason for the stop, location, time, name of the officer and outcome of the stop;
- Requires the regular (quarterly) publication of the officer’s police station (and policing region), the race/ethnicity of the stopped person, the reason for and the outcome of the stop.
2. Legislate to require the independent (non-police) investigation or all complaints against police that allege racial/religious discrimination/racial profiling or breaches of sections 8, 9,10, 17, 21, 22 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 by IBAC or equivalent independent investigation agency. Publically report on the outcome of these investigations.
3. Fund an ad-campaign to inform the public about the new stop and search data collection and receipting requirements. Support the Victoria Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and Community Legal Centres to provide community legal education about the reforms.
4. Appoint a steering committee of people (including young people) from indigenous and migrant communities/representatives, lawyers, academics, police officers, IBAC officers to be hosted at the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to monitor data collection results, training and investigation results and make recommendations to Government, Victoria Police and IBAC on improvements.
Steps for the Community
Write to your member of Parliament in Victoria to tell them about the changes to the law that you want.
Subscribe to our contact list here for more information our police accountability work.
These reports explore the impact of racial profiling on individuals and communities.
Equality is not the same - Victoria Police December 2013
Victoria Police Review of Field Contact Policy and Processes - Cultural & Indigenous Research Centre Australia November 2013
Learning to Engage: A Review of Victoria Police Cross-Cultural Training Practices - Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University December 2013
Racial Profiling Data Collection Resource Centre (clearing-house for data collection efforts, law & policy, police initiatives & analytical tools)
UN Committee on the Elimination of All forms of racism - UK 2011 (see paragraph 18)
Ottawa Police Service Racial Profiling policy 2011 (result of litigation settlement)
Report on Strategies for Effective Police Stop and Search project (STEPPS) 2009 (Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain)
 Open Society Justice Initiative, "Reducing Ethnic Profiling in the European Union – A Handbook of Good Practices", p 27.
 See for example, the Ethiopean community’s distrust in the effectiveness of the Footscray Police Investigation of the Death of Michael Atakelt. In this case, the distrust was supported by the Coroner. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/coroner-tells-police-to-reinvestigate-death-20130215-2eia2.html
 See for example, VREOC, “Rights of Passage” 2008, 2009; FKCLC, “Race or Reason” 2011; Springvale Monash et al, “Boys Do you wanna give me some Action” 2010.
 For example, the data could be published on the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website every month/quarterly.
 See for example Victoria’s Homeless Protocol.
 The 20,21 July People’s Hearing will be video recorded and submitted to the Victoria Police inquires and to the Victoria Government.