Swiss Referendum Could Force Police to Publish Nationality and Background of Criminals

Zurich, Switzerland - 1 February, 2015: a van of Zurich municipal police parked on a slanted street at the Zurich municipal police main office. Zurich municipal police is the third largest police corps in Switzerland, after Zurich and Bern cantonal police corpses.
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Swiss locals are set to vote on a referendum that could force local police to release the nationality and background of criminals after the Zurich city police decided to stop publishing the information.

The proposed referendum, which will take place on March 7th, comes after the Zurich police stopped publishing ethnic and nationality data on criminals in 2017, one of the only police forces in the country that does not release such data.

The local government has criticised the referendum and proposed a counteroffer to the proposal, stating that it would accept the publishing of nationality data but would not disclose the migrant origins of those who have become naturalised in Switzerland, broadcaster RTS reports.

Mario Fehr, Socialist State Councillor in charge of security said he backs the referendum stating, “You have to communicate in an open and honest way. It is important to show certain correlations so that we can also better protect foreigners who are innocent.”

Laura Fischer of the Young Socialists, however, disagrees and said that that the government should do more to focus on other aspects such as education or financial status and said, “We should start with this, do prevention against violence or promote access to training and fight financial inequalities.”

Of the European countries who do collect ethnic crime data, such as Germany and Italy, they have found migrants disproportionately involved in crime relative to their overall population.

In 2018, Italian authorities reported that up to one in three crimes involved foreign perpetrators, while a 2020 report released by the Italian statistics agency ISTAT revealed that nearly half of the sex crimes against women are committed by foreigners.

In some areas of Switzerland, such as the town of Neuchâtel, problems with migrant crime have reached such an extent that locals offered an ultimatum to local authorities in August of last year saying that if the police do not deal with migrant crime, locals would.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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