Police buckling under workload: Pick priorities or we won't make it, unions warn

Dutch police officers responding to a report of a crime
Dutch police officers responding to a report of a crimePhoto: Politie

Police officers are struggling with a massive workload due to increasing duties and a growing staff shortage, police unions ACP, NPB, VMHP and ANPV warned at a press conference in The Hague on Thursday. They call on the Justice Minister, the police leadership, mayors, and the Public Prosecution Service to pick which crimes will get priority in the coming year, because the police "can't do everything", NOS reports.

"We as police unions do not want to choose, that is not our role", ACP chairman Gerrit van de Kamp said. NPB chairman Jan Struijs called it a "pitch black day" for safety in the Netherlands. "People no longer wait two weeks after their declaration, it has become a month. We have a clear message for the minister, if there is no structural money, we will not make it."

The police have been struggling with staff shortages for some time. Last year the police had to drop 16 thousand cases because there were not enough officers to handle them. The staff shortages will only continue to grow, as more and more people retire from the police due to the aging population. "A large outflow is coming, we need inflow", Struijs said.

"Citizens are the victims of the under-staffing at the police. Declarations are left untouched and many cases cannot continue. Many reports are put on hold and get no follow-up. In addition, the police have no manpower to put a stop to organized crime", the unions said.

Following the murder of defense attorney Derk Wiersum in Amsterdam in September, the government announced that the fight against organized crime will be stepped up. A large group of police officers were deployed to protect lawyers, judges, prosecutors and others in the legal chain. This came at the expense of other police duties, Amsterdam and the mayors of a number of other cities warned. 

On Thursday morning it was announced that the Amsterdam police are disbanding its investigation team that deals with serious and organized crime, due to staff shortages.