Language Obligations of the Police

Language Obligations of the Police

In the quest for public security, communication is the most important operational resource used by police. When Ger­man police act in a preventive capacity, officers generally speak German while performing their duties. To over­come language barriers, the police may deviate from German, but there is no clear obligation to communicate in other languages. Contrary to this monolingualism, a duty to provide information multilingually applies to criminal pros­ecutions. Interestingly, the intensity of interventions in the case of taking a person into custody, is quite com­pa­ra­ble to the intensity of interventions for criminal prosecution. The border between public security and law en­force­ment is often blurry in practice and difficult to define legally, contributing to the disparity of communication obliga­tions regarding police action.
This doctoral project examines police obligations regarding the use of foreign languages in a pluralized and in­creas­ingly multilingual society. Based on the above considerations, this dissertation examines the distribution of ‘lan­guage risk’ in preventive police action and its effects on fundamental rights. The potential of recent technolog­ical developments and the actual practices of the police in dealing with non-German speakers are considered. Forming part of a broader interdisciplinary research project ‘ZuRecht – Die Polizei in der offenen Gesellschaft’, this project re­lies principally on doctrinal analysis and statutory interpretation, as well as empirical methods for deal­ing with linguistic differences.

 

Research outcome: doctoral dissertation at the University of Freiburg (2019–2022)
Project language:German
Photo:Daria Sannikova 2938197/Pexels

 

 

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