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The Facts on Racial Profiling

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 16 Dec 2018 | comments*Discuss
Racial Profiling Ethnicity Human Rights

Racial profiling is a method of using racial or ethnic characteristics to predict whether a person is likely to commit a crime. The use of this much criticised method has risen in recent years with the perceived rise in the threat of terrorism.

What Is Racial Profiling?

Racial profiling has been widely criticised when it comes to predicting crime and is actually illegal in certain countries. The basis of racial profiling is the assumption that people of a certain race or ethnic background are more likely to commit certain crimes. After the 9/11 terrorist attack, the US authorities used racial profiling conclusions to investigate foreign nationals of middle eastern descent. These conclusions were used even if there were no other factors that warranted investigation of these individuals.

Racial Profiling in the UK

Although racial profiling is not officially used in the UK the statistics do show otherwise. Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, police officers are permitted to stop and search individuals with justifiable cause. According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice some police do seem to be using racial profiling. Asian people were over five times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Only 0.6% of the searches ended in arrests for terrorism offences.

Why Racial Profiling isn’t Working

There have been a number of high profile cases that have highlighted the flaws in racial profiling. Colleen Larose, the middle aged, white, Philadelphian suburban dwelling woman is the antithesis of the typical terrorist profile. Self named ‘Jihad Jane’ was arrested on charges of conspiring with overseas militants to murder and if necessary to become a martyr for radical Islam causes. Colleen Larose is only one of many terrorists who do not fit the usual racial profile. Larose, along with many other white terrorists, is one of the reasons why racial profiling has been seriously undermined when it comes to profiling criminals.

Racial Profiling is Alienating Communities

One of the big dangers of racial profiling is that this method may actually be counter productive. The shocking rise in stop and search incidents of certain ethnic groups will only alienate these communities. Trust in the authorities from black and Asian communities will deteriorate. What could have been a source of information for the police from these communities will no longer exist due to the abuse of racial profiling. One senior counter-terrorism official claimed that community relations achieve results, stop and search does not.

Common Uses of Racial Profiling

Racial profiling isn’t used solely as an anti-terrorism tool. There are many instances of this type of profiling being used ‘unofficially’ throughout society. These can include monitoring of suspected shoplifters in stores and the stop and search of vehicles based solely on the race of the driver. Racial profiling as an airline security measure has been widely used throughout the world. In many cases this type of profiling is used at the customs point to determine who the officials will search. This can be seen as discrimination, and one of the dangers is that while others are searched the real criminals go free.

The Alternative to Racial Profiling

Human rights organisations such as Liberty have stated that racial profiling is not as effective as rational police methods. In January 2010 the Court of Human Rights ruled that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 does violate the right to respect for private life. According to Liberty, the profiling of suspects should be based on actual suspicion and real intelligence. Stopping and searching on the basis of skin colour, name or dress code is not a valid reason.

Racial profiling is increasingly coming under fire from many organisations as an ineffective method of crime prediction. There is no doubt that it is routinely being used and abused by authorities such as the police. Since the ruling by the Court of Human Rights in 2010 the government will now have to address this serious issue. If the abuse of racial profiling continues it will no doubt lead to increasing mistrust in the police and government officials.

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We are being white profiled....buying things in shops...we have our debt/credit cards put into the card machines 10 times before it goes through......our house is being damaged. What is happening to us and why? Your site would not let us contact you...it came up error
Ellie - 16-Dec-18 @ 11:01 AM
Racial profiling is very real and carried out not only by Police but Judges at the courts. I suffered from open and proud racism by the British judges purely on false allegations. I am under no illusion that most of Judges in Croydon Court are fully dishonest, corrupt and racist. If any student wishes data for his or thesis. will provide details.
adam - 22-Apr-17 @ 9:36 AM
i really hate racial profiling because for one it should of never happen in the first place everybody back then should been treated the same way everyone is now.should racial profiling effect the way we live today? no because everyone is different now. there are probalaly still some people that are with racial profiling. for example: the cop that kept on bothering that man for sitting on his mother's porch
#mc&jj - 1-Nov-16 @ 3:25 PM
I'd like to see the source for your statistics. People should never even accept a statistic without source.
Tom - 23-Nov-15 @ 6:45 PM
Good afternoon, I am a student researcher trying to find some of the most relevant contemporary cases of racial profiling by police here in the UK. In particular cases that are either very egregious or where there was some kind of justice extracted for victims of racial profiling. Thank you very much. Sincerely, Sean Mills
sean - 10-Jun-15 @ 5:48 PM
There has to be some profiling if police and security services are to do their job effectively.THis should not be interpreted as a green flag for racist policy but being pragmatic. At an airport security screening,should they spend as much time scrutinising the old lady in a wheelchair or should they concentrate on the younger more likely suspects, those whose profile leads security services to know where to concentrate their effort ?
DB - 10-Apr-14 @ 9:52 PM
I was just joking about the comment below. I hate racial profiling and I am really sad about it. It helped me a LOT in my persuasive essay. PEOPLE SHOULD CHANGE THEIR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACISM!!! We should get rid of it:( Weneedto be united:)I AM SOOOOOOOO SORRY ABOUT THAT MEAN COMMENT I DIDN'T MEAN IT! I WAS JUST JOKING! SORRY!
SORRRRRY! - 10-Sep-13 @ 2:47 AM
racial profiling is still happeneing no matter what happens, theres always going to be that one bad apple that is going to poison the bunch!!! This is the 21st century, not everyone is going to agree with everything!
Shotput - 7-Jun-13 @ 5:45 PM
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