This paper examines key features of police race/ethnic-minority relations in England and France over the last two decades.
In 1979, the British Institute of Race Relations submitted the report entitled, "Police Against the People," arguing that police misconduct toward Black citizens had become "an everyday occurrence, a matter of routine." It identified the following elements of police misconduct toward Black citizens: stop-and-search without reason, unnecessary violence during arrests, harassment of juveniles, the risk of arrest when suspects asserted their rights, risks to witnesses and bystanders, repeat arrest of individuals, and entering the homes of Black citizens at will. In contrast to the United Kingdom, France has little interest in examining police behavior toward persons according to race/ethnicity, as there is no official data on the race/ethnicity of those who are the focus of police actions. The author, however, reports on recent research in which he has participated. One study involved field interviews with immigrant youth who had interactions with police in the Paris region. Another study analyzed 113 anonymous complaints against the police recorded on a toll-free number between May 2000 and May 2002. These complaints against police show a pattern of allegations of more aggressive and insulting actions by police against racial and ethnic minorities. An investigation of the responses to these complaints showed that no action had been taken. In addition, interviews with a sample of French police officers revealed stereotypically negative views of various groups of immigrant residents. This paper concludes that government officials in Great Britain recognize there is a significant problem in police-minority relations and are attempting to correct it; whereas, French officials are immersed in the belief that the country and its institutions, unlike other countries, have no problem in race relations; and there is no interest in an empirical investigation to determine whether this belief is warranted. 18 notes and 24 references