Findings from an international research programme on police stops in Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain are reviewed in the context of British and US debates on racism in police stops, and in particular the concepts of ethnic/racial profiling, disproportionality and institutional racism. The research uses surveys and qualitative interviews to examine the experiences of Roma in all three countries and of immigrants in Spain. The article finds evidence of ethnic/racial profiling in police decisions to stop. However, this does not translate into aggregate ethnic disparities in stops (disproportionality) in Bulgaria and Hungary where it can be measured. This is because ethnic disparities are driven also by structural factors that are independent of ethnic profiling. Different kinds of institutional racism are also suggested by the poorer treatment of ethnic minority populations during stops and by evidence of under-policing of Roma-only communities in Bulgaria.
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