Department of Integration and Diversity in cooperation with the 'Fair und Sensibel Österreich' Association

The Austrian Integration and Diversity Department (Referat Minderheitenkontakte) at the Austrian Police and 'Fair und Sensibel Österreich' Association engage in a number of activities to improve police relations with minority groups and to aid integration into Austrian society. These are designed to raise awareness and improve the reporting of hate crimes within minority groups.

Some of the initiatives they carry out include:

  • Attending events organised by or related to minority groups. For instance, police offers from the Department go to Africa-themed days or to the Diversity ball in Vienna.
  • Hosting an ‘advice evening’ twice a month. This takes place in a private location, and police officers, the Association and members of minority groups can participate.
  • Holding networking events with governmental organisations and NGOs that deal with hate crime. Meetings are held regularly with some organisations (up to six times a year); with others they take place when required.
  • Dealing with non-criminal complaints from the public towards minority groups (such as exceeding allowed noise levels), and working to alleviate tension in situations of potential conflict.
  • Conducting information campaigns on cultural/social values and related themes, such as domestic violence, forced marriage, and the rights and responsibilities minority groups have under Austrian law.

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Implementing the practice: step by step

  • Mid to late 1990s - Tension rose between African asylum seekers and the Austrian police due to increased levels of drug dealing in certain areas of Vienna.
  • 2000 - An international panel of experts (consisting of academics and figures from civil society) was assembled to discuss the conflict between these groups in Vienna.
  • The creation of a pilot project was recommended (called “Police and Africans”.) The former Director General for Public Security at the Federal Ministry of Interior and the former Head of Police in Vienna decided that the project would raise awareness among police officers and promote an open minded approach amongst the police towards the African communities.
  • 2004 - The project was renamed ‘Fair und Sensibel – Polizei und Afrikaner’.
  • 2006 - The Association ‘Fair und Sensibel – Polizei und Afrikaner’ was founded. This was renamed as ‘Fair und Sensibel Österreich’ in 2012.
  • 2010 - The Department of Integration and Diversity (Referat Minderheitenkontakte) was created within the Vienna police force. This institutionalised the activities of the association.
  • 2010 – 2015 - police officers worked closely together with employees of ‘Fair und Sensibel Österreich’, taking part in joint activities.  
  • 2016 - The Department and the Association became cooperation partners (the Association is an NGO). The organisations share the same building and work closely together. However, cooperation between them remains a working arrangement. It is based neither on a contract nor on a written agreement.
  • Establishing contact and credibility with migrant groups is vital to creating an environment conducive to the success of such a practice. Outreach activities like those mentioned above are key to developing a trustful relationship. 

Evaluation of the practice

Assessments of the practice are conducted by the Integration and Diversity Department (Referat Minderheitenkontakte) and the Association. No social partners are involved.

Reports and questionnaires are used to carry out evaluations. These are mainly carried out by the Association for EU-funded projects.

No specific indicators have been developed for measuring effectiveness and standardised data have yet to be collected. In addition, no brochures or fliers have been produced or published.

However, the verbal information campaigns have helped to raise awareness among migrant groups of hate crime-related topics.  

Face-to-face communication between migrants and the police has helped increase confidence in the police, and this should make migrants feel more comfortable in reporting incidents of hate crime. 

Critical success factors

There must be a high commitment to the project from police management, along with political support for such a department to exist within the police.

Staff dedicated to working in the area are also key: 

  • The Association employs 3 full-time and 2 part-time staff members. Two volunteers also work on a specific project.
  • The Department of Integration and Diversity employs two full-time police officers. One of these is has a migrant background.
  • The selection of candidates for the department was carried out by the Head of Unit. The skills deemed necessary for working within the department are:
  • Impartiality and empathy towards people with different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds; conflict management; good communication skills; and teamwork.

Officers working in the Department for Integration and Diversity are also trained in project management and international conflict management.

Successful communication with immigrant communities relies heavily upon creating a basis of trust, and any communication should be conducted on an equal footing. This means people from those groups are more likely to be receptive to any messages they hear from the police. Regular engagement also increases the likelihood of cooperation.  

Elements transferable to other EU Member States

The creation of a Department of Integration and Diversity. Having a dedicated contact point within the police force helps to build confidence with migrants. In turn, this increases the likelihood of hate crimes being reported.

Key Facts

Start date: Department founded in 2010.
End date: 2015.
Scope of the practice: The Department – local; the Association - national.
Target group: Members of minority groups, people with disabilities.
Beneficiaries: Migrants, deaf people.
Key objectives: To encourage peaceful relations between different population groups in Austria; to support the integration of people from migrant backgrounds; to build confidence in the Austrian police; and to promote communication between members of the target group and the Austrian police.

Legal basis of the practice

The activities of the Department and the Association are not based on a specific hate crime legal framework.  

The legal basis for the Department’s activities is the Criminal Procedure Code, Security Police Act – Strafprozessordnung, Sicherheitspolizeigesetz.

The legal basis for the Association is the Association’s Act.

Designing bodies and partners consulted

  • Vienna Police Department (Landepolizeidirektion Wien)
  • Association ‘Fair und Sensibel Österreich‘

Implementing Bodies

  • The Department of Integration and Diversity - Referat Minderheitenkontakte
  • The Association ‘Fair und Sensibel Österreich‘ - Verein „Fair und Sensibel Österreich“

Further information

See the Fair und Sensibel Österreich website.