A mobile phone app introduced earlier this year has enabled the Zurich City Police to produce figures for the first time on the number of people they stop, along with the reasons.
Zurich is the first city in Switzerland to introduce the app, which was developed partly in response to some allegations of racial profiling.
All city police officers have been equipped with the app since February. If they check a person, they have to input the reason and state whether the action was successful or not: i.e. whether their suspicions were confirmed.
The figures show that between February and July 2018, a total of 16,554 people were checked, with a success rate of 31%, meaning police officers’ suspicions were confirmed in almost 5,100 cases.
“We have created great transparency with the app,” Markus Hollenstein of the Zurich City Police told the NZZ newspaper. “This was missing before.” He says there were already guidelines, “but we didn't know how many people we had checked, and there was no information about the reasons.”
The most frequently cited reason for police checks between February and July 2018 was abnormal behaviour and appearance. Police suspicions were confirmed in 22% of these cases. The second reason given was related to an event, e.g. a brawl where police questioned those involved. The ‘success’ rate here was 42%.
Next came checks related to a police situation or threat, e.g. a street parade, football match or a bomb threat, followed by reasons informed by prior experience, e.g. in places known for crime. The final reason given was related to a search for wanted persons. This is where police logged the rate of 60%.