Organized crime has free reign in Netherlands: community officers

Police officer looking for witnesses
Police officer looking for witnessesPhoto: Politie

A majority of community officers in the Netherlands believe that organized crime can continue virtually unchecked in the cities, according to a study by two Police Academy scientists on behalf of the National Police. According to the community officers, there are too few detectives and this hampers the work of uniformed officers, the Volkskrant reports.

The researchers personally interviewed 65 police officers and another 325 filled in a questionnaire. Over 70 percent indicated that they encounter "many criminals" who hardly ever get tackled by the law in daily practice. "Police officers see many criminal families, leaders and networks without being able to act against them, and without other police officers doing so", researchers Judith van Valkenhoef and Edward van der Torre said to the newspaper. "This mostly involves drugs, with which incredible amounts of money is earned. And they see boys who feel untouchable. That keeps them awake."

While this problem has been around for a long time, the establishment of the National Police in 2013 made it worse, the researchers found. The National Police base teas use community officers as the front line in the fight against crime - community officers usually know who the criminals are in the neighborhoods. But to follow suspects for long periods, detectives in civilian clothing with special equipment are needed. And there are way too few of them, according to the researchers. Another problem is that community officers come up against large amounts of bureaucracy when they try to tell their story to higher levels within the police.

A spokesperson for the National Police acknowledged that there are problems. "We have to make choices on a daily basis, and unfortunately work gets left undone. The question we have to answer is whether adding more detectives is a solution", the spokesperson said to the newspaper. The staff of the base teams already have a detective task, and solutions need to be sought elsewhere. "We can not influence the overall capacity of the police. That is the responsibility of the minister."