Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre

Racial Profiling

This Page contains:

Racial Profiling

Steps to Address Racial Profling in Victoria

Research and Resources


Racial Profiling

Racial profiling occurs when police stop, question, target or search a person because of their race.

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.[1]

Racial profiling causes alienation, exclusion, unnecessary criminalisation, disengagement, detrimental health and socio-economic impacts.[2]  Furthermore it disinhibits minority groups from reporting crimes and seeking assistance from police and generates high levels of distrust.[3]

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.[4]

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.

Summary of Experts Report - English (PDF)

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.

Section 8 of the Charter of Human Rights

A person's ethnicity does not make it more or less likely that they have committed or are likely to commit an offence.


It's not just about me - its about the whole community: A story of racial profiling from Flem-Ken Community Legal Centre on Vimeo.


Professor Ben Bowling | Real Solutions to Racial Profiling from Flem-Ken Community Legal Centre on Vimeo.


Yin ParadiesAssociate 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)




Steps to Address Racial Profiling


The eliminatioTamar announcing the steps to end racial profiling at a public forum on 16 April 2013n 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].

5. Introduce a “Youth Protocol”[6] 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
  1.  Write to your member of Parliament in Victoria to tell them about the changes to the law that you want.

  1. Subscribe to our contact list here  for more information our police accountability work.


Research on Racial Profiling


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

FKCLC / Arnold Bloch Leibler Submission

Research on racial profiling in the Flemington / North Melbourne area from the Race Discrimination case

Police reject move for search receipts - 20 September 2011

Proposal for a new Stop and Search receipting policy

Media 5 September 2011

NEW REPORT: Race or Reason? Police Encounters with Young People in the Flemington Region and Surrounding Areas (2011)

Victoria Police - racism claim - Indigenous  (2010)

"Boys you want to give me some action" police violence and racism in the Braybrook, Flemington & Dandenong regions. (2010)

Interview with Daniel Haile-Michel Done by Law (20 March 2010)

Rights of Passage Report by the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Rights of Passage Two Years On: 2010

Green Left Weekly Article on Justice for Africans

Institutional Racism in Australia - A case study on policing

Southern Ethnic Advisory & Advocacy Council Submission to the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2008)

Article on corruption theory and Indigenous communities (2008)

Moonee Valley City Council Report (2006)

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991)


United States

Floyd v NYPD Court Order September 2011

2010 comment on stop & search in New York

2009 ACLU report on racial profiling in Louisana

Institute on Race and Poverty - Components of Racial Profiling Legislation
Letter from ACLU in 2009 condemning the practice of racial profiling

Racial Profiling Resource Center Northeastern University USA

2005 ACLU Racial Profiling Report

The Black Agenda Report

US Racial Profiling Resources

Racial Profiling Data Collection Resource Centre (clearing-house for data collection efforts, law & policy, police initiatives & analytical tools)


United Kingdom

Stop and Search Rights Card 2011

Stop and Search in a Global Context - workshop 2011

UN Committee on the Elimination of All forms of racism - UK 2011  (see paragraph 18)

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 1999

Dr Miranda Fricker on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and testimonial injustice

2006 UK Report Just Justice - black young people's experience of the youth justice system



Ottawa Police Service Racial Profiling policy 2011 (result of litigation settlement)

Learning from race data - The Star News report

Ontario Human Rights Commission - Paying the Price, the Human Costs of Racial Profiling

Racial Profiling Hotline in Montreal

Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, Manitoba, Canada



Reducing Ethnic Profiling in the European Union 2012

Report on Strategies for Effective Police Stop and Search project (STEPPS) 2009 (Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain)

Report by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to the European Parliament 2009

Ethnic Profiling in Europe - Open Justice Report 2009

French Minority Profiling Report 2009

Open Society Justice Initiative, "Reducing Ethnic Profiling in the European Union – A Handbook of Good Practices (PDF)



[1] Open Society Justice Initiative, "Reducing Ethnic Profiling in the European Union – A Handbook of Good Practices", p 27.

[3] 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

[4] 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.

[5] For example, the data could be published on the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website every month/quarterly.

[6] See for example Victoria’s Homeless Protocol.

[7] The 20,21 July People’s Hearing will be video recorded and submitted to the Victoria Police inquires and to the Victoria Government.





Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria

Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria

Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria
Website by CeRDI