A migrant group living on the streets of Copenhagen has accused the local police of harassment and of illegally seizing their money, mobile phones and other belongings.
According to the first major international survey of Romanian (mainly Roma) street workers in the Scandinavian capitals, the Copenhagen Police use disproportionate conduct against the migrants who travel to Scandinavia to collect bottles for recycling, beg and sell street papers.
The survey, carried out by the Norwegian FaFo research institute and the Rockwool Foundation, asked 1,269 Romanian (mainly Roma) immigrants about their lives in Romania and about their current living conditions in Copenhagen, Oslo or Stockholm.
Copenhagen Police the harshest
Comparing the three capitals, the report states: “The homeless Romanian migrants in Copenhagen are experiencing a significantly higher level of violence committed by police officers.”
While only one of those interviewed in Stockholm and one in Oslo indicated they experienced violence from the police, 17 in Copenhagen experienced police abuse.
Similarly, 15 percent of those interviewed in Copenhagen indicated the police confiscated their money, phones or other belongings without a receipt, while in Oslo, 7 percent of the Romanian (mainly Roma) street workers had such an experience.
The report also shows that Copenhagen is the city with the fewest complaints about police harassment, attributing this fact to the low level of trust between the police and the homeless in Copenhagen.
In conclusion, the report states the Copenhagen police are generally more concerned to control rather than to protect the foreign homeless people, making them more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
According to the researchers, the homeless street workers from Romania who travel to Scandinavia come from conditions of extreme poverty, and the vast majority of them are Roma from rural regions.
While Stockholm seems to attracts those with the weakest resources, Copenhagen appears to draw those with the strongest.
“The most likely explanation for this disparity is that Copenhagen is the Scandinavian capital where it is toughest to live on the streets, but which simultaneously offers the best earning opportunities,” states the FaFo report.