Finland is characterised by the high levels of trust in the police. Recently though, discussions have been raised about ethnic profiling, and the use of force by the police, illustrated namely by the Black Lives Matter movement. Encounters between ethnic minorities and policing agents are often perceived as negative and lacking trust. However, these questions are not yet sufficiently studied. This article studies experiences of the police and private security officers among ethnic minority youths. Particularly, the analysis focuses on whether young people perceive the contacts as labelling and stigmatizing. The article is based on thematic analysis of 18 in-depth interviews (total 30 youths participated in individual and focus group interviews). Even if the study participants were born or lived in Finland for a long time, they experienced being common targets of policing due to their ethnic minority background or (assumed) immigrant background. These perceptions were based on situations where the policing agents looked for “suspects” (labelling attributes), or where the control agents asked for the identification card (assumed foreign control), as well as in general situations of maintaining law and order. The participants perceived these situations often as negative, labelling and they felt being treated as “others”. Yet, the participants also resisted stigma in different ways. The findings expand the criminological discussions of labelling and control biases from the viewpoints of ethnic minority youths. Furthermore, being often suspected and labelled as delinquent challenge belonging to society, identity and general trust.
Workshop 'Registration of police stops and ethnicity and defining the police stop' 31 Aug - 2 Sept 2022
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