The use of identity checks by the police is regularly contested by groups of young people with an immigrant origin. They often experience the use of controls as discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization. Regular police checks with certain groups of young people create a sense of insecurity caused by police officers in these groups. In this article, we would like to consider whether the Belgian identity verification scheme should no longer introduce accountability mechanisms to prevent arbitrary use of these controls. More specifically, we want highlight a controversial but important discussion in Belgium about registering ethnic data for anti-discrimination purposes, but then focusing on identity checks. Namely the idea of following registering systems following the example of the United Kingdom to use (quantitative) the whole of the identity checks and the ‘color’ of the person being checked, so that discriminatory, ‘focused’, stigmatizing practices can become visible. This main question raises a number of sub-questions that we would like to address in the remainder of this article: is the problem of discrimination in the police practice of identity checks confirmed by current social science research? What about the regulations and practice of identity checks in neighboring countries such as France and the Netherlands? In what way can the arrangement concerning the British ‘stop and search’ competence be instructive for Beligum? And finally: what does the current Belgian regulation on identity checks consist of and where are the bottlenecks?
Mike Rowe, Megan O’Neill, Sofie De Kimpe and István Hoffman have published the paper Policing during a pandemic – for…Read more
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