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Home inspections: VVD rejects ethnic profiling

23 July 2007 - The national VVD said welfare agencies may target Somalis for inspections, but the Amsterdam VVD disagrees. Is it OK to target people because they have been self-employed or because they have worked in the catering industry?

There is a political controversy about risk profiles used by the Amsterdam welfare agency (DWI) to target people for home inspections, but almost nobody knows what these profiles look like.

People can be targeted if they belong to a group that is statistically more likely to commit fraud. However, to prevent opportunistic behaviour on the part of welfare recipients, the criteria to define these groups are kept a secret in Amsterdam. In the past, a number of council members were told about them on condition of signing a pledge of secrecy.

A 2006 publication of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation FNV lists some of the criteria other municipalities use for profiling. These include sharing an address with other people; having worked in the catering industry or in construction; having worked on a freelance basis; being under 23; and having more than one car registered to one’s name.

In some municipalities, it is also considered a risk factor if people use cash dispensers outside the neighbourhood where they live; or if they have been living on welfare for an extended period without applying for income supplements.

Frans Beishuizen (VVD, photo) is doubtful whether it should be allowed to target people on the basis of their work history, although he stresses that people are not targeted on the basis of only one factor. However, he is clear in his rejection of ethnic profiling.

He is aware that this is going against his national party leader, Mark Rutte. Rutte has said there was nothing wrong with the Haarlem welfare agency wanting to inspect a Somali’s home solely on the basis of his language and skin colour. A court had ruled this to be discrimination.

See also: VVD wants answers on home inspections; Welfare agency does not discriminate; FNV report (in Dutch)


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