Publikācijas > Policing deviance against national minorities.

Policing deviance against national minorities.

Mg.iur. Eriks TRELS

Abstract: In the abstract suggestions and recommendations are considered about policing in multinational society, which were developed by the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe, and also the decisions of the European Court of the human rights.

Good policing in multi-ethnic societies is dependent on the establishment of a relationship of trust and confidence, built on regular communication and practical co-operation, between the police and the minorities. All parties benefit from such a relationship. The persons belonging to national minorities „benefit from policing which is more sensitive to their concerns and more responsive to their requirements for personal protection and access to justice. The police benefit from greater effectiveness, since good communication and co-operation are keys to effective policing in any community. The state benefits both from the integration of minorities and from the greater effectiveness of its policing“. (Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE], 2006)

The need to develop „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“, according to representatives Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities, arose out of „the absence of institutional mechanisms to support the interaction and co-operation between police and persons belonging to national minorities. In combination with the lack of appropriate training for operation in a multi-ethnic society, an often mono-ethnic composition of the police service and discriminatory practices, police have generated negative reactions among national minority communities in a number of situations and even become a conflict catalyst”. (OSCE, 2006)

Despite mentioned above, there were examples of opposite attitude, when representatives of High Commissioner on National Minorities has seen „how efforts to make the police service more representative of the community it serves and to enhance communication between police and national minority communities not only strengthened inter-ethnic relations but also increased the operational effectiveness of police”. (OSCE, 2006)

For the universal analysis of this specified problem Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities brought together a group of highly experienced experts comprising representatives of relevant international organizations along with senior police officers, independent experts and non-governmental actors with particular expertise in the field. In development of „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“ a representative from Latvia took part, Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, Director, Latvian Centre for Human Rights, also an independent expert - Dr Robin Oakley, independent consultant and Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies, Royal Holloway – University of London, whom I had an honour to be personally acquainted with and to cooperate in many researches and projects at Latvian Centre for Human Rights, dedicated to the rights of the National Minorities. This work, with no doubt, had a huge influence on the becoming and development of my ideology on this question, as also on my activity as the student of doctor’s degree of the Latvian University, as so as present police member.

Despite mentioned above Dr Robin Oakley and Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, the independent experts were from Kosovo, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Macedonia, Hungary, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and from Russian Federation. As we can see, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities has chosen competent specialists of the representatives from European countries for the working of „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“.

The Recommendations aim to provide States with some practical guidance in developing policies and law in accordance with international norms and standards, and based on international experience and best practice which can balance and meet the needs and interests of all sectors of the population, including those of persons belonging to national minorities. Obviously the Recommendations need to be implemented in a way which is sensitive to the specific situation in each State – including such factors as the ongoing police reform process and the actual situation on the ground. (OSCE, 2006)


The 1st article of the „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“ says: “States should adopt policies which clearly recognize the importance of policing for inter-ethnic relations. These policies should form part of wider policies and programmes to promote the integration of minorities at national and local levels. They should also be co-ordinated with wider action to promote professionalisation and a service-orientation in policing and to ensure that all policing is carried out in accordance with international standards on human rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities”. (OSCE, 2006)

In a multi-ethnic society good inter-ethnic relations and the integration of persons belonging to national minorities depend on the perception of all ethnic groups that the activities of the state are legitimate and effective.

According to the recommendations by authors, ethnic minorities are assured equal access to Justice by the Police. Authors believe that minority’s perception of the police as an institution, applying the law fairly, regardless of ethnicity, assuring equal access to Justice and assuring public safety, gives them respect for the state in general.

It is difficult to disagree with the authors of Recomendations. More importantly in my opinion, the first steps in mentioned approximation the law-enforcement authorities have to make. A policy on minority policing needs to be an integral part of police development programmes.

In the 9th section „General Duties of Police Officers” of Law of the Republic of Latvia “On Police” is said: “The duty of any police officer throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Latvia, regardless of the position held by him or her, location or time, shall be, in cases when persons address the officer with an application or a report about an incident which endangers the security of persons or society, or if the officer determines such an incident himself or herself, to take all measures possible to prevent a violation of the law, rescue people and offer them assistance in the identification and arrest of persons who committed the violation of the law, determination of eye-witnesses, guarding the location of the incident, and notifying the nearest police institution regarding the incident”. (Law of the Republic of Latvia “On Police” [On Police], 1991)

The 2nd article of the Recommendation says: “States will need to ensure that the police and the general public, including minorities, understand the role of the police in promoting good inter-ethnic relations. They will also need to ensure that the police are tasked and equipped to carry this role out. Political and police leaders should publicly state their support for this role, and promote understanding and support for it generally among the public”. (OSCE, 2006)

The necessity of a correct planning, made by me, in capacity of conclusions to the 1st article of Recommendations, are also reflected in the 3rd article: “Action plans to implement these policies, and also to monitor their implementation on a regular basis should be developed by state authorities and police in close co-operation with minority representatives”. (OSCE, 2006)

It is important to know whether policies and measures are being effective and are achieving the results intended. According to the recommendations by authors higher reviewed action plans should:

- Involve an integrated approach, incorporating all fields of police action;
- Be based on analysis of specific problems and needs in police-minority relations;
- Identify and task the persons responsible for implementing policies on policing and minorities;
- Establish specific posts or units to carry out or co-ordinate the necessary work;
- Include provision for sufficient financial resources;
- Provide for continuing consultation and co-operation with police and with minorities at all stages;
- Include establishing local pilot projects, as a useful first step.

As further the authors of Recommendations mention, „it is also essential that the implementation of policies on policing and minorities is monitored on a regular basis”. (OSCE, 2006)

Authors believe such monitoring should also be undertaken by an independent body, may include parliamentary human rights institutions or other public oversight bodies. About the necessity of realization of independent monitoring and research says also Dr Robin Oakley in his work „Policing Racist Crime and Violence. A Comparative Analysis”. (Oakley, 2005)


The 2nd chapter considers the access „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“ in recruitment: “The composition of the police – at local, regional and national levels and including senior as well as junior ranks, and also civilian personnel – should reflect the diversity of the population. The public image of the police as an ethnically representative body needs to be actively promoted“. (OSCE, 2006)

Authors believe equitable representation of minorities in the police organization is important for several reasons:

- As an indicator that members of all ethnic groups have equal opportunity as individuals to join and progress in careers in the police;
- As a way of promoting integration of minorities through their participation in the public life of the state and its institutions;
- As a way of providing the police organization internally with a range of knowledge and skills (including language skills) that are required for working in an ethnically diverse community;
- As a means of helping police to build relationships externally with minority communities based on effective communication, co-operation and mutual confidence. (OSCE, 2006)

According to the recommendations by authors where police organizations are not able to recruit minority persons, „then the appointment of suitably experienced persons from minorities as specialist advisers is an alternative method of bringing minority perspectives into the management of policing”. (OSCE, 2006)

Historically, Latvia has always been ethnically diverse and at various periods ethnic minorities have formed a varying, but significant part of its population. According to The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, in 01.01.2010, ethnic minorities formed 40% of the country’s population: Latvians 1,338,682; Russians 621,766; Byelorussians 80,532; Ukrainians 55,749; Pole 52,446; Lithuanians 29,999; Others 75,618.

In the 5th article of Recomendations is said: “Statistical targets should be set for increasing the representativeness of the police, and monitoring of the ethnic composition of the police should be introduced in order to measure progress”. (OSCE, 2006)

At the same time it is worth to notice, that the collection of ethnic data is a sensitive and controversial issue, and data protection laws appear to hinder the collection of data on ethnicity in some countries. To solve this problem the authors of the document recommend by suggestion of making ethnic data anonymised, converted into statistical data.

In the 6th article of Recomendations is said: „Initiatives to increase recruitment of underrepresented minorities will need to be introduced. These should include special measures to encourage applicants and to assist them to achieve the required standards, together with actions to remove any direct or indirect discriminatory barriers”. (OSCE, 2006)

The “special measures” are the following:

- Initiatives to increase information in minority communities about employment opportunities in the police;
- Measures to address the lack of sufficient educational qualifications in potential applicants. These might be intensive short courses designed to bring provisionally selected candidates up to the required entry level;
- Action to identify and address any possible causes of discrimination against minority applicants.

In the 7th article of Recomendations is said: “Measures will also need to be introduced to ensure that police officers from a minority background are accepted and treated equally inside the police organization, which should provide a neutral working environment, and have equal opportunities for progression in their careers”. (OSCE, 2006)

Mentioned measures are necessary, because, in opposite way, unless minorities feel they are treated equally and with respect inside the organization, and have neutral working environment and the same opportunities to progress in their careers, they are likely to leave their employment in the police.


The 8th article of the „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“ says: “Police need to receive training and other forms of professional support required to understand and respond appropriately to the sensitivities of minorities, and so that they are able to carry out their policing roles effectively in ways which promote harmony and reduce tensions“. (OSCE, 2006)

About the necessity of professional perfection of judges, prosecutors, policemen, in this law area says European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe in the “Third report on Latvia”. (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe [ECRI], 2008)

Training is an essential form of professional support that police require in order to be able to carry out their role effectively. The training needs to show police the relevance and practical implications of new knowledge and skills, and to demonstrate how these will assist them to carry out their role effectively and professionally and bring benefits to them in their everyday work. For the achievement of this goal it is necessary in education to bring together independent experts with particular expertise in the field.

In the 9th article of Recomendations is said: “It is recommended that training in minority issues and inter-ethnic relations is included in both initial and in-service training, and provided for senior as well as junior police officers. Representatives of minorities should be involved in both the planning and delivery of training”. (OSCE, 2006)

According to the recommendations by authors, the selections of contributors from minority communities are also an important resource for police training: “Police need to learn at first hand from minorities about relevant cultural and religious practices and about minority perceptions of the police”. (OSCE, 2006)

In the 10th article of Recomendations is said: “Police codes of conduct should include professional standards for policing in multi-ethnic societies, and police training programmes should include components specifically designed to achieve these standards. Breaches of these standards should be subject to remedial action, and exemplary good practice should receive professional and public recognition”. (OSCE, 2006)

Compliance with professional standards and codes of conduct should be recognized by police managers, failure to comply with should lead to remedial action and in serious cases of misconduct to disciplinary procedures against an officer.

Codes of conduct are based on international standards and set out the general ethical principles on which good professional policing is based.

In the 11th article of Recomendations is said: “It is recommended that police managers and supervisors are clearly tasked with the responsibility to ensure that their staff achieve these standards in their dealings with minorities, and should provide leadership and set examples of good practice in their own work”. (OSCE, 2006)

The authors of Recommendations not without reason believe, that: ”training and codes of conduct are not alone sufficient to ensure that actual police practice will accord with policy and professional standards”. (OSCE, 2006) The leadership provided by senior police officers, and the management and supervision of police staff, are also vital factors.


The 4th chapter of the „Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies“ says: about the cooperation between the police and ethnic communities. In the twelvth article of Recomendations, included in this unit, is said: „Police should be tasked with developing methods and practices to communicate and co-operate with minorities and to build confidence together at local, regional and national levels”. (OSCE, 2006)

What Dr Robin Oakley says about this: „Without the public’s willingness to report crime and cooperate with the police, police-led intelligence gathering could not begin to identify and effectively respond to the bulk of ‘everyday’ crime”. (Oakley, 2005)

According to data of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe, there is a decent amount of people in Latvia, consisting mostly of Romany nationality, who don’t report to police about crimes, this fact undoubtedly makes it hard to find out the real capacity of present problem. (ECRI, 2008)

In 2006, some amendments have been made to the Criminal Law concerning provisions criminalising racially and religiously motivated offences, such as the inclusion of a racist motive as an aggravating factor. According to the Ministry of Interior Information Centre, 58 criminal cases have been registered under Section 78 “Instigation of National, Ethnic and Racial Hatred” Criminal Law during the period 2005 - 2009 (13 - 2005, 14 - 2006, 16 - 2007, 9 – 2008, 6 - 2009).

In recent years, Latvian police positioned itself as the service organisation, dedicated on the delivery of services to the population. Democratic service-oriented approaches to policing, and a community policing approach, require regular and effective communication between police and citizens. In any democratic State police need to establish methods and practices to communicate with the public at all levels.

Authors believe police in a multi-ethnic society face an additional challenge. Communication and confidence building needs to reach out to a variety of minority groups, which may be diverse in terms of language, culture, religion and other circumstances, and which may be dispersed or residentially concentrated. Police need to make sure that the methods and practices they use to communicate with the public take account of this diversity and past history, and can reach out effectively to all different ethnic and national groups. (OSCE, 2006)

According to the recommendations by authors, use of interactive methods that involve personal contact and communication between police and minorities should be implemented. These include the following:

- Community forums;
- Public meetings;
- Community advisory boards;
- Joint police-community workshops;
- Community contact points at police stations;
- Dedicated patrol officers regularly visiting particular communities.

In the 13th article of Recomendations is said: “Police will need to ensure they have the capability to communicate with minorities in minority languages, wherever possible by recruitment and training of multilingual staff, and also by use of qualified interpreters”. (OSCE, 2006)

To assure the accomplishment of these Recommendations recruitment of persons belonging to national minorities into the police will immediately provide the police organization with a major resource to meet this need. Despite of this the authors of the document recommends to policemen, that their non-minority colleagues should receive appropriate training in minority language skills.

In the 14th article of Recomendations is said: “Police should play a proactive role in providing encouragement and support to minorities to assist them to communicate and co-operate with the police, for example by acting as partners in initiatives to promote recruitment and to provide training on minority issues. Minorities for their part should be ready to communicate and co-operate with the police for the purpose of increasing community safety and access to justice”. (OSCE, 2006)

Effective policing in a democracy is dependent on having an active and well-informed body of citizens who take their civic responsibilities seriously, and are willing to provide co-operation and support for police to carry out their role. In a multi-ethnic State, it is essential that national minorities also play an active part in this process. (OSCE, 2006)

In the 15th article of Recomendations is said: “It is recommended that mechanisms are established to ensure that police are democratically accountable for their actions to people from all sections of the community. These need to include effective systems for making and following up complaints, which are accessible to persons belonging to national minorities. All sections of the community need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the police, and of the powers of the police and the services they are expected to provide”. (OSCE, 2006)

In a democracy it is essential that national minorities are able to have access to complaints mechanisms, so that they have the same access to redress against the abuse as other citizens.


In the 21st article of Recomendations is said: “Police should be tasked and trained to play a proactive role in developing a relationship with minorities aimed at identifying and if possible reducing tensions which can lead to inter-ethnic conflicts”. (OSCE, 2006)

According to the recommendations by authors, has identified the police as having a key role to play in the prevention of ethnic conflict. In their opinion, which is hard to disagree with, the police as having a key role to play arises from a number of factors: “the responsibility of the police for the maintenance of public order and tranquillity, the powers possessed by the police for this purpose, the intelligence available to the police about tensions or incidents that could give rise to ethnic conflict, and the professional skills that can be employed by police to help to ensure that such tensions and incidents do not actually develop into overt physical violence between different ethnic groups”. (OSCE, 2006)

A key contribution which the police can make to the prevention of ethnic conflict is monitoring the levels of tension between ethnic groups.

In the 21nd article of Recomendations is said: “Police also need to be trained and equipped to manage civil disturbances and incidents of inter-ethnic conflict in a professional and non-partisan manner, with the aim of de-escalating conflicts and of resolving them through mediation where possible and with minimal use of force”. (OSCE, 2006)

In the Law of the Republic of Latvia “On Police” is said: Police officers have the right to use physical force, special fighting techniques (Section 13); a police officer is entitled to use a firearm (Section 14) if such are necessary. (On Police, 1991)

The management of public order is a key responsibility of police in a democratic State. In a multiethnic State, overt ethnic conflict is an acutely serious form of public disorder, as it threatens the very foundations of the social cohesion of the state. The capacity of the police to manage and resolve any such outbreaks of public disorder is therefore crucial for the maintenance of a successful multi-ethnic society. (OSCE, 2006)

Authors believe police have the right to use force to resolve overt conflicts, their professional aim should be to use the minimum amount of force necessary, and only to use it as a last resort. Alternative approaches such as mediation should be used wherever possible.

In thelast 23rd article of Recomendations is said: “Especially at the local level, police should co-operate closely with other public authorities to ensure their actions to prevent and manage inter-ethnic conflict are co-ordinated with wider action to promote the integration of minorities and to build a successful multi-ethnic society”. (OSCE, 2006)

At both national and local levels, the police and other public authorities need to come together to develop specific strategies to prevent ethnic conflict and ensure community cohesion in multi-ethnic societies.


The protection of national minorities is a necessary part in international protection of human rights and also it is a part of the international cooperation sphere. As the European Court of the human rights proclaimed in the case of „Nachova and Others v. Bulgaria” in 6 July 2005, by investigating the criminal incidents the State institutions will be obliged with additional duties of going every lawful step to expose every racial motivation. (European Court of the Human Rights [ECHR], 2005)

Despite some progress in recent years in Latvia that has resulted in the increased awareness among police about the specific nature of hate crimes, there remains a strong need for concerted and sustained effort in the capacity building of the law enforcement, the prosecution and the judiciary.

This research offers of practical policing methods for the improvement of a preventive work in stopping the offences against people of national minorities.


1. European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe. (2008). Third report on Latvia. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

2. European Courts of Human Rights. Nachova and Others v. Bulgaria. Application No. 43577/98 and No. 43579/98, Judgment of June 6, 2005, from

3. The Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia. (1991) Law of the Republic of Latvia “On Police”. With amending laws of 2009, in Latvian from

4. Oakley R. (2005). Policing Racist Crime and Violence. A Comparative Analysis. Vienna: European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

5. Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe, High Commissioner on National Minorities. (2006). Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies. Hague: Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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