"No confidence" in Forensics director amid budget strife

Reinout Woittiez
Reinout Woittiez as Managing Director of the Netherlands Forensics Institute (Photo: Roy Beusker / Netherlands Forensics Institute)Reinout Woittiez as Managing Director of the Netherlands Forensics Institute (Photo: Roy Beusker / Netherlands Forensics Institute)

The managing director of the Netherlands Forensic Institute lost a no-confidence vote held by the board after just 13 months on the job. The board chose to release news of the on Reinout Woittiez the same day an internal memo between the NFI, police department and public prosecutor was leaked, criticizing the Dutch cabinet's plans to cut the forensic team's budget by 13 percent.

"I hope that soon we will discover a viable route out of this unpleasant situation, and I will continue to make an effort," Woittiez said in a statement released on Monday.

As an agency, the NFI is under the Ministry of Security and Justice. Woittiez began with the NFI while Minister Ivo Opstelten was in office. Opstelten resigned amid controversy on March 9, 2015, paving the way for Ard van der Steur to take over control of the ministry.

Spending cuts first proposed by Opstelten and promoted by Van der Steur are expected to lead to 80 job cuts. The internal memo obtained by newswire ANP on Monday had the three departments in agreement that 60 of those jobs must be restored, at a cost of six million euro, or the country's security needs will not be met.

Fourteen different forms of scientific study are expected to be affected by the budget cuts, including fingerprint analysis, gunshot residue, and weapons and ammunition research. Achieving the additional investigative priorities that the cabinet wishes to focus on, namely, child pornography, cyber-crime and the fight against jihadism will also be problematic.

Van der Steur stuck to his guns after the memo release, saying only that the prosecutor and police need to better prioritize their investigative requests, adding that the NFI has always said it does not have enough funding to meet all of the requests it receives. He wants to find inefficiencies at the NFI, and determine how the agency can better make use of its money to meet the nation's needs without sacrificing analytic ability.

The NFI board rejected Woittiez’s austerity policies, and said he did not display enough leadership qualities, reported De Volksrant.

With no recovery of funds within the organisations the ministry will have to be content with adjustments in the fields of security and investigation. Socialist Party MP Michiel van Nispen said the cuts will drastically reduce the chances of putting criminals behind bars.