Netherlands turning into a narco state, says police union

Dutch detectives are struggling under a massive workload and as a result can only get to a fraction of their tasks, police union NPB says in a new report that will be sent to the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday. The Netherlands is turning into a "narco state" where drug trafficking thrives and most criminal groups are left undisturbed, the union warns in the report that NOS has in its position.

"In the last 25 years I have seen small dealers grow into large entrepreneurs with good contacts in politics and into so-called respected investors", the report titled 'Noodkreet recherche!' quotes one detective. The NPB spoke to almost 400 detectives over the past year for this report. 

According to the detectives, they only get to about one in five cases due to a lack of capacity. Only around one in three requests for, for example, surveillance teams or digital experts can be granted. They are mostly focused on violent crimes like assassinations and robberies. Other investigations are left unnecessarily long or eventually dropped. Forensic investigations are also under extreme pressure. And in the meantime, criminals are turning into rich entrepreneurs with interests in hospitality and the housing market. 

Sex crime detectives in particular are struggling under the workload. Over the past years their tasks have grown significantly in the fields of human trafficking, child pornography and revenge porn. The NPB calls sexual abuse an underestimated social problem.

Elderly people are increasingly targeted in crimes and there is little capacity to deal with crimes like chat scams, according to the detectives. "That has such an impact, when the family jewels are gone. There is hardly any time to pick this up. It is actually outrageous", a detective says in the report.

The police are also still working with outdated ICT systems and cooperation with, for example, the probation service, youth care, municipalities, the Tax Authority and Customs is often difficult. The National Police is still "anything but a well-oiled machine", the NPB concludes. 

Almost two years ago another critical report was released on the state of the Dutch investigative services. Since then little has changed, according to the union. "Detectives feel let down and citizens are the victims." The NPB calls for 2 thousand more detectives to be hired in the short term, and more attention given to detectives' development.