People in Ireland among most likely in Europe to be stopped by police

Survey by EU rights agency finds high acceptance for Garda in comparison to other forces

Ireland has one of the highest rates of people being stopped by the police in the European Union, according to a survey by an EU rights body.

More than one in five people (21 per cent) in the State were stopped in 2019, with higher rates reported only in Austria (25 per cent) and Estonia (24 per cent).

The rate rose to 25 per cent among Travellers in Ireland, but was just 12 per cent among black people of sub-Saharan African origin.

The figures are contained in a Europe-wide survey of police stops published by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. The agency gives advice to the EU and member states on a range of issues relating to fundamental rights.


It shows that black, Asian and Roma people are more likely to be stopped and searched by police in the bloc, which affects their trust in policing.

An Garda Síochána has one of the highest rates of acceptance in countries surveyed, with 79 per cent of the public who were stopped stating that officers were respectful. This fell to 71 per cent among black people of Sub-Saharan origin and 53 per cent among Travellers in Ireland.

A majority (65 per cent) in the EU-27 think police generally treat people with respect "frequently" or "always". But the results vary considerably between countries ranging from 86 to 89 per cent in Finland to 47 per cent in Bulgaria,

Rebuild trust

The agency’s director Michael O’Flaherty said the Black Lives Matter protests “underscored the need to tackle racism and discrimination that are still all too common in our societies.

“It is time to rebuild trust among all communities and ensure police stops are always fair, justified and proportionate.”

Patterns across Europe show that those who were most likely to be stopped were people aged between 16 and 29 (21 per cent) were stopped in comparison with 6 per cent of people aged 65 and over.

Out of people who consider themselves to be part of an ethnic minority, 22 per cent in the EU 27 were stopped by the police in the 12 months before the survey, as opposed to 13 per cent of people who do not consider themselves to be part of an ethnic minority. The police searched or asked 34 per cent of ethnic minorities for their identity papers, compared to 14 per cent of people generally.


The context of a police stop can affect the way people experience them. Mostpeople are stopped while driving, but most minorities are stopped while on foot. In some countries, more than 80 per cent of ethnic minorities perceived their most recent police stop as being ethnic profiling.

Perceptions of profiling may be less common when people are stopped whiledriving, given it is more likely to be a random check unrelated to the personal characteristics of the person. Those who experience ethnic profiling also show lower trust in public authorities than those who do not.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times