A report led by an Australian National University (ANU) researcher into police racial profiling has been submitted to the Federal Government’s Law Reform Commission Inquiry into the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in prison.
The Monitoring Racial Profiling report, led by ANU PhD researcher Tamar Hopkins as part of the Police Stop Data Working Group, recommends police begin keeping data on pedestrian and traffic stops with a view to monitoring for, and preventing, racial profiling.
Ms Hopkins said the report was submitted to the inquiry due to concerns that racial profiling was contributing to the high rate of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia.
“Obviously there’s a host of reasons for the over incarceration of Indigenous people, but racial profiling is one of them.
“When police focus their attention on a group of people they are going to find crimes in that group, which skews the prison population to reflect whoever police are targeting.”
Ms Hopkins said police officers should record the perceived ethnicity of every person they stop. This data could then be cross-referenced with census data to determine whether radical profiling is occurring.
“There is no data across Australia to determine whether radical profiling in occurring. Data of this type has been collected for 25 years in the UK, and many parts of the US and Canada.
“At this stage there is no way of monitoring if there is a problem, and we know anecdotally that there is.
“We also think the scheme itself will have some effect in reducing the level of racial profiling by forcing police officers to think about whether there is a justification for the stop.”
The Monitoring Racial Profiling report was originally prepared by the Police Stop Data Working Group and commissioned by the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre in relation to the policies of Victorian Police.