Poor police detective skills attacked in Justice Min. report

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Police detectives work inefficiently and sometimes lack the necessary skills and craftsmanship, according to a "strength and weaknesses" investigation experts did on behalf of Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice. The report on the investigation was sent to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on Thursday, NRC reports.

"While there are of course things that go well, there is still a shocking image about investigation", the report concludes. Many problems arise because classically trained officers are struggling to find their way in a "digitizing society where criminals have the means to strike from a distance". And the police lacks the vision to deal with "major issues" like "jihadism, asylum seekers and cyber threats", according to the report.

Another problem, according to the report, is the "faltering justice system" and the fact that there is no fluency between the work of the police officer, the prosecutor and the criminal court. As an example, the report refers to the tough approach to serious crime in Zuid-Nederland last year. About 400 suspects were arrested. But at the end of the year, only six were convicted. This leads to much frustration in the police, who put in a lot of effort but saw now effect.

There is also a problem with inefficient equipment - many young detectives use their personal smartphones for work "because they can not effectively work with the outdated service-telephone". The report is also critical of the police unions, which "practice a form of advocacy that stands in the way of necessary changes in investigation procedures".

All these problems result in "more unresolved crimes than is necessary. Failing detective work can also result in wrongful convictions, investigative opportunities being missed or failed prosecution."

The researchers also warn that proposals for improvements in the report will be met with resistance from the police leadership. They conclude that it would be better if there was less pressure on accountability from politicians, as the police experience this as suffocating.

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