The police were allowed to take a general look at 650 people of Roma background.

The police were allowed to take a general look at 650 people of Roma background.

In a hidden audio recording, a police officer says he is looking for Roma who are not criminals. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority believes the police have not broken the law.

This slide was shown at a meeting at the Police College in November. It shows the mapping that the police are doing for people with a Roma background. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority believes that the police are allowed to have such an overview.

Short version

In March, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority announced that it would investigate whether the Eastern Police District had complied with rules on the processing of personal data in a survey conducted by the police chief.

This came as a result of Aftenposten revealing that the police had surveyed more than 650 people from Norway's Roma minority.

Now the Norwegian Data Protection Authority has concluded: The police district was allowed to conduct a survey of these people.

“Our investigations did not reveal that personal data was processed in violation of the Police Records Act and the regulations issued under the Act.”

This is what the Inspectorate wrote in a letter to the police district, which Aftenposten has access to.

No ethnic record

It was researcher Solvor Lauritzen who first saw the police record during a meeting at the Norwegian Police Academy last November. She thought the overview looked like a family tree, and feared the police had created an ethnic register.

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The Eastern Police District has consistently denied creating an ethnic register, saying the overview is based on crime in order to get “a certain overview of the overall picture of crime”. They have called the overview an internal investigation memorandum.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority has now decided that the police district did not process personal data relating to ethnic origin in violation of the law.

They believe that the police were allowed to create a general view in order to combat crime.

“In this regard, we particularly emphasized that the starting point for mapping was the concrete crimes and investigation complexes, and not the ethnicity of the registered persons,” the Norwegian Data Protection Authority wrote.

The audio recording has not been rated.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority assumed that the purpose of the police mapping was to create a network map of people involved in specific investigations.

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“The review never included race or location/identity as a goal or criterion,” the Norwegian Data Protection Authority wrote in its decision.

In a hidden audio recording previously published by Aftenposten, the police chief who submitted the review said something else.

He said the purpose of making the list was to “find a Roma in Norway who is not a criminal” from whom he could get information.

The policeman also said that “the authority to do that there is at best in some gray area.”

– Has the Norwegian Data Protection Authority assessed the content of the audio recordings published by Aftenposten?

-No. The basis for our assessment is reports from the Eastern Police District and information from our local supervision in the police district, says Maren Vagan, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority's specialist manager.

She says they did not speak to the police supervisor who provided the overview.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority wrote that they only checked the legality of the overall overview. They did not have a position on whether each individual's personal data was processed in accordance with the law.

If they want to investigate this matter, individuals should request such verification of their own information.

“We will handle any complaints and requests for control individually,” Fagan says.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority went to the Volo police station in Ski in June to see the overview and check it with their own eyes.

Thomas Sterk, head of joint investigation, prevention and intelligence at the Eastern Police District, told Aftenposten that they were satisfied that the Norwegian Data Protection Authority had conducted a thorough investigation into the case.

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“We note that the Norwegian Data Protection Authority supports our starting point, which is that there is a clear legal basis for the work that has been done,” he says.

Don't write reviews.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority noted that the police did not conduct ongoing written assessments regarding the proportionality of public reviews.

The police are not required by law to write down the assessments they make. But the Norwegian Data Protection Authority believes that the Eastern Police District should do so in the future.

– Our general recommendation is to do the assessments in writing. In our letter to the Eastern Police District, we recommend doing this for similar assessments in the future, says Fagan from the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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