Undercover cops protesting for fair pay

Torture chamber in an underworld prison discovered in Wouwse Plantage in Noord-Brabant, 22 June 2020
Torture chamber in an underworld prison discovered in Wouwse Plantage in Noord-Brabant, 22 June 2020PolitiePolitie

Starting today, the police's Observation and Technology Service (O&T) - the department that handles undercover operations - will be protesting for an appropriate salary and the return of scrapped benefits. Given the secrecy and anonymity involved in their work, they can't protest in traditional ways. Instead, the eleven units of this service will take turns to only do desk work, AD reports.

The action is supported by police unions ACP, ANPV, and NPB. Today, the O&T in the Midden-Nederland unit will protest, followed by the department in the Oost-Nederland unit on Wednesday, ACP chairman Gerrit van de Kamp said to the newspaper. "Depending on the response from the police top and the Ministry of Justice and Security, we will then see how it continues."

According to Van de Kamp, given the safety risks in undercover operations, the work done by the O&T service often remains unsung. Though recently it was announced that the O&T service helped hack into the systems of encrypted phone provider EncroChat, so far resulting in the arrest of  over a hundred suspects and the discovery of an underworld torture chamber

Despite the extra risks and training involved in their jobs, the over 400 undercover police officers in the Netherlands earn the same as other officers. They have unsuccessfully asked for fair pay for five years, Van de Kamp said. "They saw hundreds of euros in expense allowances drop without anything in return." It is for that reason that they now feel forced to protest.

According to Van de Kamp, undercover officers have many sudden expenses that other police officers don't face. "For example, O&T workers sometimes have to buy clothing that suits heir situation. They are not compensated for that," he said to the newspaper. "In addition, they are often undercover so you can not use a debit card. Also, the high-workload must be taken more into account and they should practically always be ready."