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Disrespectful police attitudes still all too common

Policewomen occupy two-thirds of administrative or logistics positions but are underrepresented on ground operations and on decision-making positions. Credit: © Belga

Het Nieuwsblad is reporting today (Wednesday) that a PhD student, at the University of Ghent, has followed interventions by two local police teams over a six-month period. She has concluded that, in one-third of cases, the police did not treat the citizen concerned with respect.

Anjuli Van Damme (from UGent) studied a total of 215 police interventions and 284 contacts with citizens, during her visits accompanying police in the field.

She reports having observed a lack of police respect towards citizens (with police screaming, making degrading remarks, mocking, proffering obscene gestures and other forms of bullying) in 36% of contacts with the public. This occurred whether or not there was any form of rebellion on the part of the citizen concerned.

In one in five cases, the police ignored the explanation given by the person concerned.

In one in four cases, the police allowed themselves to be guided by their own prejudices, whether in respect of citizen origin or gender.

The criminologist comments, “Many people think that the police are racist, but sometimes detective sergeants contribute to this cliché.”

However, she stresses that these examples of inconsiderate behaviour focus on a small group of detective sergeants. At the same time, the majority of these are behaving respectfully.

The Brussels Times