Police stops and minorities: understanding and preventing discriminatory ethnic profiling

When used as an investigation technique in the context of law enforcement, ethnic profiling is often referred to as “criminal profiling”. This type of profiling uses indicators such as physical features, appearance or behaviour to give a “suspect description”. Profiling becomes unlawful when it is discriminatory.

Direct discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnicity is unlawful. This is a principle of international law and is contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Where police powers are exercised in relation to individuals and the only or main reason for this is their race or ethnicity, profiling is discriminatory.