Dutch police officers call for more customized duties

Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie)Dutch police officers (Stock Photo: Politie)

Police officers in the Netherlands are calling for more customization in their duties as part of a so-called base team. They feel that these base teams are too large and that they have too many managers, and that this comes at the expense of contact between officers and citizens, according to the report Police and Science, published on Monday, ANP reports.

The research for this report was done among six base teams, containing 122 police officers, across the Netherlands. The base teams were given a prominent place when the National Police started in 2013. The idea was that they should make the police more visible on the street. These teams perform the basic police tasks at local level, with community officers playing a central roll.

The base teams are the first point of contact for citizens and are also responsible for identifying common crime. They are composed of a few dozen to some 200 officers and can be called in to handle both emergency- and non-emergency situations.

The police officers feel that instead of making the police more visible on the streets, the base teams turned them into "a big anonymous heap". And too many protocols make working difficult. They feel that the teams are too large to for a social context for itself and that their own solution - creating sub-teams for certain tasks - created restlessness and dissatisfaction among the team as a whole, according to the report.

Gerrit van de Kamp, president of police union ACP, called the results of the report "no surprise, but disappointing". "The risks that we've been pointing out for some time, have become a reality", he said to ANP. According to him, police officers are trapped by "protocols, operating documents and so on". "We need more space for the police profession, the police must return to the citizen."

In a statement on the police website, National Police chief Erik Akerboom acknowledges the base teams' need to properly organize things themselves. "I want to strengthen the base and that can be done by giving more room for customization", he said. "The functions of the base team and the composition of the fleet, mobile work and associated equipment: for such aspects flexibility is necessary."