Results from a qualitative study of police discretion in Denmark are presented. The aim of the study was to investigate the background for police decisions made on the spot, and to determine whether or not police discretion amounts to discrimination. Police discretion is analysed as two distinct forms of power, namely the power of definition/suspicion and the power of procedure/prosecution. The study shows that both forms are used in a discriminatory way, and it is argued that use of the power of suspicion results in discrimination. The power of prosecution, on the other hand, need not necessarily entail discrimination, but in practice it often does. The police discern between “typical offenders” and “decent citizens” and treat suspects differently according to type. The reason for this discrimination, it is argued, can be found in officers’ notions of typological guilt , a form of “alleged” guilt that is independent of concrete evidence. Differences in the degree of leniency experienced by different types of suspect can be interpreted as vicarious punishment of the typologically guilty. The impact of this kind of police practice on police-citizen relations, and possibilities for improvement, are discussed.
For more than four years, our EU COST funded network on Police Stops has been gathering information, hearing from experts…Read more
Workshop 'Registration of police stops and ethnicity and defining the police stop' 31 Aug - 2 Sept 2022
In line with our project’s ambition to share learning and explore the issue police stops across Europe, we are organising…Read more
European Journal of Policing Studies Special Issue: The Dynamics of Police Stops Guest editors: Mike Rowe Sofie de Kimpe Vincenzo…Read more