Police staff shortages give criminals free reign in Dutch cities: report

Dutch police officers responding to a report of a crime
Dutch police officers responding to a report of a crime. Photo: Politie

Police forces in the large Dutch cities are facing major staff shortages, which result in crime reports being left unattended and common crimes happening with no intervention. Spokespersons for the Amsterdam and Rotterdam police raised their concerns while speaking to newspaper AD, adding that it is not only the provinces that are in trouble.

In Amsterdam dozens of files disappear from the shelf every week, allowing the criminals involved to go free, a spokesperson for Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said to AD. "These are cases with perpetrator clues, especially involving burglaries and thefts. We don't pick up these cases, to the frustration of our people." Staff shortages are even more pronounced during the summer holidays. In that period, cannabis farm reports are temporarily ignored, as well as hit-and-run cases. 

Last month the 12 commissioners of the King released in a report warning that by deployment to rural areas. According to Fred Driessen, police officer and chairman of police union ANPV in Amsterdam, the cities aren't doing much better. "We do emergency aid, keep the shop running. But we are barely addressing structural problems."

A contributing factor to the problems, is the large number of events throughout the country, according to Driessen. These events need extra police deployment. Another reason for shortages in Amsterdam, is extra deployment for guarding Jewish institutions in the city. 

Leen Spoor of the Rotterdam department of ANPV paints a similar picture. According to Spoor, the Rotterdam police are keeping up with emergency services, but it is difficult. "I look at the base team where I work, Maas and Rotte", Spoor said to AD. "On paper we have 208 police officers. But there are 42 students, who are not deployable. So we are constantly dealing with being understaffed."

Since the establishment of the National Police in 2013, the Netherlands has 168 base teams that carry out the police's core tasks - emergency response, dealing with problems in neighborhoods and combating common crime. The last two tasks are so seriously understaffed that they barely happen anymore, both ANPV spokespersons warn. 

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