Justice Min. defends tough police contract talks, over budget police reorganization

Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema). (Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema))

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice will stick to his plan surrounding the reorganization to the National Police, despite upset and concerns in the Tweede Kamer. He is convinced that the transformation will run better now that it has two extra years and and extra money to do so.

The Minister said this in a debate on the reorganization of the police on Thursday evening in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, NU reports.

In a recently published reassessment note on the reorganization, Van der Steur gave the police until 2018 to get everything back on track. This will double the initially estimated cost of the reorganization. The police will have to pay the out of its own reserves. According to the Justice Minister, they are up to this financial challenge.

The opposition parties in the Kamer are angry because they frequently warned that things are going wrong with the police reorganization. Van der Steur's predecessor Ivo Opstelten always replied with comforting words. They are also concerned about the loss of confidence in the police itself regarding the reorganization

Van der Steur took all the criticism to heart, but denied that everything is going wrong with the reorganization of the police. He will not make a new plan, as the SP, PVV and Group Bontes/Van Klaveren called for, but promised to keep the Kamer better informed about the developments during the reassessment. The Minister will also not replace the police leadership, whose task, according to him, is to restore the police officers' confidence in the National Police. He also noted that many officers are uncertain about their situation. He shares the Kamer's concern, but he finds this another reason while the reassessment of the reorganization is very necessary.

Regarding the upset surrounding the collective bargaining agreement for the police, the Minster reiterated that the unions are welcome to come and talk to him. "The door is always open for the police unions to come and talk about the government's offer", he said. This offer includes a 5 percent wage increase and a once-off amount of 500 euros.

The ChristenUnie demanded an investigation by the Court of Audit on the financial future of the police. This demand got a lot of support and the Minister agreed to request an investigation. Led by the CDA, the Kamer also demanded that the number of community police officers be up to standard by January 1st - one community officer for every 5,000 citizens.