Law enforcement officers on the European continent are increasingly involved in the spread of radical ideas and views, which is reflected in the growing number of hate crimes by officers.
Police officers in the UK and across Europe are increasingly caught up in a “culture of extremism”. An independent study confirms that among law enforcement officers in Europe and the UK, the percentage of officers who regularly post racist and anti-Semitic content on the Internet is extremely high. Increasingly, officers are sharing photos of black victims, making jokes about beating and raping migrants, and mocking the killing of women and children of other nationalities. In light of growing public concern about the culture of extremism among police officers in the UK and Europe, it is clear that this phenomenon requires immediate attention and serious action.
An independent study documenting the unacceptable behavior of some law enforcement officers has revealed unacceptable racism, anti-Semitism and brutality that undermines public confidence in the police and calls into question the principles of fairness and equality that should guide them. The report, published by the Institute of Race Relations, claims that in France, Belgium, Germany and Hungary, former law enforcement officers are increasingly venturing into politics and joining various far-right parties. In Britain, a series of high-profile cases of police violence and brutality have only confirmed accusations of “institutional racism” against constables: a 2022 investigation found that British police officers had set up a messenger group in which they posted pictures of two murdered black sisters. Another group of officers exchanged messages about the beating and rape of women, as well as the deaths of black babies and the Holocaust, according to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.
A report released in late March 2023 found that, in addition to racist and anti-Semitic ideas, sexual assault and misogyny crimes were increasingly common in British police forces. The 363-page report, which analyzes the activities of the UK police since 2021, published data on sexual harassment by police officers: one in eight women in the British capital at least once in her life faced harassment by police officers, and one in three – with sexist remarks in their address. Experts believe that such statistics of crimes against women indicate “the complete collapse of the rotten police system, which has not yet had time to get rid of the problem of racism“. The assumption is supported by statistics: according to data for 2023, the British police are trusted by about 50% of the country’s residents, which is one of the lowest figures in the history of observation.
A number of European countries, including the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, have created social media communities that describe law enforcement as a barrier that protects society “from falling completely into chaos.” It is in these communities, whose members range from 5,000 to 50,000 police officers, that researchers say, extreme right-wing ideology and racist prejudice are promoted and police officers are portrayed as “heroic punishers.” These groups not only express support for the police, but also distribute materials that align with far-right narratives, nationalist rhetoric, and oppose movements for the rights of blacks and other minorities. The use of symbols associated with white supremacy and far-right movements, as well as information posted by community members, are indicative of the growing level of far-right radicalization of police departments in Europe.
Given the growing prevalence of radicalized ideas among law enforcement officers in Europe and the UK, the need for urgent action to address this negative dynamic is clear. Maintaining law and order and ensuring the safety of all citizens depends on trust and understanding between the police and the public. Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice call on European and British politicians and oversight bodies to pay attention to the alarming problem and take a series of actions aimed at improving the ethical qualities of police officers.