Justice Ministry hid critical report on firearm licenses
Pressured by top officials from the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Justice and Security Inspectorate buried a critical report about the inadequate control of firearm licenses in September 2020, the Court of Audit concluded in a study on inspectorate reports. As a result, parliament was never informed about staff shortages and other problems at the police departments that issue permits, NRC reports.
This particular issue is politically sensitive due to a mass shooting in a mall in Alphen aan den Rijn in 2011. Gunman Tristan van der Vlis was given a firearms license even though the authorities knew he struggled with mental health issues.
The Inspectorate announced on 2 March 2020 that it would investigate the checks the police perform before issuing firearm licenses, the fourth such investigation since 2002. By the summer of 2020, the study was almost complete. In its report, the Inspectorate spoke about balls the "police and responsible organizational units of the Ministry of Justice and Security" had dropped in increasing the "personnel capacity" of the responsible police teams, according to NRC.
But the report was never published because the Ministry said that the Inspectorate should never have carried out the investigation. The Court of Audit called it "problematic" that just before the Inspectorate would have published the report, there was a discussion "about whether the Inspectorate was allowed to investigate this," and that the Inspectorate then decided not to publish the investigation.
A spokesperson for the Inspectorate told NRC that it decided internally not to publish the report. According to her, the Inspectorate's independence is not in danger. She called it "stupid" for the Inspectorate to investigate the staffing capacity of the police because it had "no authority" to do so. "Unfortunately, that only became clear in an official conversation with the police and security regions directorate," she said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security said that it did not pressure the Inspectorate not to publish the report. "That was the decision of the Inspectorate itself."