Ireland

Gardai urged to develop new policy on addressing racial profiling

The move comes after a report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Irish Network Against Racism.

Gardai have been urged to develop a new policy on addressing racial profiling after a report revealed how people from ethnic minority communities feel unfairly treated
Garda stock Gardai have been urged to develop a new policy on addressing racial profiling after a report revealed how people from ethnic minority communities feel unfairly treated (Julien Behal/PA)

The gardai have been urged to develop a new policy on addressing racial profiling after a report reveals how people from ethnic minority communities feel unfairly treated.

The report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) details the perceptions and experiences of racial discrimination of people from ethnic minority communities when interacting with gardai.

‘Policing and Racial Discrimination in Ireland: A Community and Rights Perspective’ outlines findings from a series of workshops held with members of ethnic minority communities.

The report shows that while each participant had their own unique experiences, and experiences were uneven, participants were critical overall where their perception was of unfair treatment of members of racialised groups by gardai.

Participants detailed some positive experiences with gardai, but also shared stressful and traumatic interactions and experiences.

Overall, their experiences have led them to feel unsupported, unprotected and unrepresented by gardai, the report shows.

Out of 36 participants, 83% expressed a fear of being racially profiled or discriminated against by gardai.

More than 30% of participants specifically mentioned issues around being black and their belief that gardai assume that black people cannot be Irish.

Participants also noted that there is a lack of trust between minority communities and An Garda Siochana.

Asked if they believed gardai treated members of racialised groups the same as the wider white, settled Irish population, the vast majority (more than 80%) felt they received differential treatment.

Shane O’Curry, director of INAR, said: “Relations between police services and the communities they serve are paramount for good policing in any society.

“The findings of this study indicate an unevenness in the application of good practice, as well as gaps in policy and practice.

“This leaves a poor impression on communities who often also find themselves marginalised in other ways.

“We must work to create the conditions where minorities have full confidence in An Garda Siochana. It is in all of our interests.”

Liam Herrick, executive director of ICCL, said: “This report raises significant questions for An Garda Siochana in terms of how the organisation and its members are perceived by minority communities in Ireland.

“It is imperative that gardai now work to improve relations with and experiences and perceptions of minoritised communities.

“As recommended by the report, An Garda Siochana should improve diversity within the force and also develop its expertise, policies and training on racial profiling to tackle unconscious bias and improve cross-cultural communication and intercultural understanding.”

The report makes 18 recommendations, including six to Government, one to the Policing Authority and 11 to gardai.

Its recommendations include that the Government immediately mandate the collection of disaggregated data pertaining to race, ethnicity, religion, gender and disability across the entire Irish criminal justice system, including in all policing operations, the courts and crime statistics, to properly understand how racial and ethnic minorities are treated within the justice system.

It further recommended that gardai develop and publish a new policy on addressing racial profiling and how to prevent, prohibit and monitor it, and also develop and deliver specific training on racial profiling that addresses, among other things, unconscious bias, cross-cultural communication and intercultural understanding.