FP wants police to focus on ethnicity

By William Green

FP leader Heinz-Christian Strache today (Tues) called for police to focus more on "ethnicity" in fighting rising crime in Austria.

Strache said conventional investigative methods were no longer sufficient after the EU had expanded to take in former Eastern Bloc countries and the increasing activity of organized crime groups in the country.

He said: "Organised crime from Eastern Europe can come unhindered into Austria" following the movement of Schengen zone borders eastward.

Strache added police needed to be able to better investigate people from different ethnic groups and be able to speak their languages but rejected the idea of recruiting people from those ethnic groups to join the police.

The Freedom Party (FP) leader also called for dissemination of more up-to-date information about crime through the media, such as spots in TV programmes on provincial news warning people about burglaries and giving them information about how to prevent them.

He added there was a need for a more use of DNA material in investigating crimes and that the police force should be increased by at least 3,000 with half of new recruits being posted to Vienna.

Strache cited figures that crime in Austria had increased by 5.5 per cent and in Vienna by 11.6 per cent year on year from January through August.

The Vienna Greens and anti-racism organization ZARA recently claimed the Vienna police had been using "ethnic profiling" in looking for perpetrators of crimes in the city.

But despite rising crime, more than three quarters of Austrians are happy with police performance, recent figures have shown.

Seventy-seven per cent of Austrians believe crime has been rising, but 76 per cent are very satisfied or satisfied with the work of the police, according to the results of a poll by Linz public-opinion research firm IMAS that were released in July.

Only 19 per cent said they were unhappy with the police.