Legal aid for Dutch cops costs millions: report

police. (Photo: Politie)

Since 2015 the police spent 4.7 million euros on lawyers assisting police officers, for example because they used violence, NOS reports based on figures requested from the police. 

In 2015 the police established a pool of 14 law firms from which officers in need of legal assistance can select a lawyer. Since then, law firm Sjöcrona van Stigt in The Hague sent almost 2.7 million euros in bills to the police. Other law firms also earned well from the police. Almost 500 thousand euros went to De Roos en Pen Advocaten in Amsterdam, Knoops Advocaten claimed nearly 400 thousand euros, and an anonymous sole proprietorship billed the police more than 300 thousand euros.

The police figures do not give any insight on how many hours of work or how many different cases were involved, according to the broadcaster. The law firms the police do business with use different rates, so it is impossible to calculate. Some give discount, some charge the usual hourly rate, which can run up to a few hundred euros per hour. 

The police consider it important to provide good legal assistance for officers, a spokesperson said to NOS. "The total amount is considerable, but we believe that we as an employer are obliged to pay the costs." According to the police, the participating law firms are "trained in the finer points of the police profession", with lawyers going to police firing ranges and participating in arrest training sessions. They must be able to represent an officer for questioning within an hour of being called. 

Law firm Sjöcrona van Stigt does not find the amount of 2.7 million euros claimed excessively high. "We are the largest office in the pool and do most of the work", lawyer Boudewijn van Eijck of the firm said to NOS. "It involves 245 files in three years, so it makes sense that we are at the top." This law firm also represented police officers in the case surrounding Mitch Henriquez's fatal arrest. 

"These are absurdly high sums of money", lawyer Kerem Canatan said to NOS. "It is obviously very lucrative to work for the police. There are many firms that do not make this as an annual turnover by far." Canatan called it ironic that the government cut back on legal aid for regular people, but still has a lot of money for good lawyers themselves. "A regular defendant does not get a specialized lawyer with a high hourly rate. That feels like class justice."

Lawyer Michiel Kuyp also called it strange that the government apparently has more money for legal assistance for its own thant he 105 euros per hour that is reimbursed for 'ordinary' suspects. "Apparently government officials are more valuable to the state than the citizen who can not afford a lawyer", he said to the broadcaster.