A reflection on expanding preventive powers, ethnic profiling and a changing social and political context
Over the past decades the Netherlands has developed into a culture of control in which criminals and immigrants are mainly seen as ‘dangerous others’. Tying in with this emergence of the culture of control is the development of a more preventive criminal justice system. By means of expanding preventive powers the criminal justice system is more and more aimed at detecting risky (groups of) persons as soon as possible. This so-called actuarial justice is accompanied by a great deal of discretionary power on the hands of those who have to enforce the law, bearing the risk that such powers may be carried out (in part) on the basis of generalisations relating to race, ethnicity, religion or nationality instead of on the basis of individual behaviour and/or objective evidence. The leading assumption in this article is that recent social, political and legal developments have increased the possibility for ethnic profiling in the Netherlands.
Being a country of immigration, mostly immigrants tend to fall victim to these practices. Illustrated by the stop and search powers that have been introduced at municipal level in 2002 and in 2006 in the context of counterterrorism, the authors not only aim to provide insight into the complexity of actuarial justice in relation to ethnic profiling in the Netherlands but also aim to fuel the scientific debate on empirically researching ethnic profiling.
Policing & Society
Vol. 21, No. 4, December 2011, 444 455