Dutch police do too little against internal corruption: report

Police. (Politie)

The Dutch police still do too little to fight corruption within their own ranks, according to an investigation by the Ministry of Security and Justice's Scientific Research and Documentation Center, NOS reports.

Police officer screening is still not properly done, according to the researchers. "Ever fewer employees are subject to the heavier forms of screening", the report reads. The screening investigations are also less detailed than in the past and too few interim screenings are done. 

Over the past five years, the researchers found 80 integrity violations linked to organized crime. Half of those violations happened at the police, the rest in customs, the Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Tax Authority's investigative department FIOD. In the police, the integrity violations mostly involved leaking information and private contact with criminals. At customs and FIOD, violations were mostly checks and controls being circumvented. 

According to the report, there are no indications that corruption in the detection services is increasing. However, criminals are increasingly trying to get a foothold within the authorities. The police are especially vulnerable on this front, because officers regularly come into contact with criminals on the street. "That is a balancing act that not everyone does well", the researchers write, according to the broadcaster. 

The researchers warn that criminals abuse digitalization. Nowadays officers have access to confidential data on their smartphone, making them a target of organized crime. Despite this, officers in the basic teams are those who are screened the least. 

The report also said that there is an "overrepresentation" of the number of employees with an immigration background involved in integrity violation, according to NOS. In the police, 16 of the integrity violations noted by the researchers involved employees with an immigration background. Of the 65 thousand police employees, an estimated 5 thousand have an immigration background. According to the researchers, the chance that these employees know a criminal is larger, "given the relatively high involvement of some ethnic groups in organized crime". The researchers also talk about "double loyalty" - to the police on one hand, and to family and friends from their own background on the other. 

Customs and the Koninklijke Marechaussee seem to pay more attention to corruption within their own ranks than the police. There is a closed culture in the police, and addressing each other on behavior is a sensitive topic, according to the researchers. Earlier this week an investigation into the spending habits of the police's central works council came to a similar conclusion. And last week the police unions raised concerns about the police organization not knowing how to deal with criticism from employees. 

In response to the report, Minister Stef Blok of Security and Justice said that the police and other detection services sharpened their measures to combat corruption. "The research confirms how important it is to make the employees of the detection services more resilient against the pressure of organized crime. This is the most important lesson."