Denmark: Immigrant youth not qualified for police

Despite years of campaigning, the police corps have been unable to draw young people of immigrant background into the force

After a 12-year push by the national police to recruit more young people of immigrant background into a law enforcement education, the group makes up only two percent of all police officers today.

The new figures, released by Statistics Denmark, have got the National Commission of the Danish Police to rethink its strategy for luring young people - especially those from Muslim backgrounds - away from criminality and into the police.

'One of the most important signs of integration is when someone of immigrant background can see one of their own become a policeman and have the authority to issue a ticket to a native Dane,' Torben Møller-Hansen, president of the integration organisation Foreningen Nydansker, told Politiken newspaper.

'There ought to be more signing up. But I can't see what the problem is because the police have really done all they can,' said Møller-Hansen.

But although 7 percent of the applications police receive come precisely from their target group, many immigrant background youths simply do not possess the qualifications necessary for police training.

Lars Nicolai, assistant inspector with Copenhagen Police's crime prevention division, also believes that the police's image in many immigrants' native countries is poor. Combine that with the strict regiment required to become a police officer in Denmark and few can make the cut.

'We really need more of them,' Nicolai says of officers with immigrant background. 'They have a knowledge that can rub off on their colleagues.'

Hanne Bech Hansen, Copenhagen's Chief of Police, agreed and said that knowledge could have helped in controlling the recent rioting episodes the city experienced.

'It would probably have been an advantage to have had more officers of immigrant background on the force.'

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also: Denmark: More immigrants fail written military conscription test, Norway: Police want to recruit in mosques

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