Police undercover unit overhauled after abuses
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The police’s undercover investigations department is going to be overhauled. Several incidents have occurred within the unit in recent years that prompted questions about oversight and management, including the suicide of an undercover officer.
The measures already implemented are “insufficiently future-proof,” said police chief Oscar Dros of the National Unit. In consultation with the Public Prosecution Service (OM), the work of the current team will be phased out “as quickly as possible in a responsible, controlled manner.”
The police will design a new organization. According to Dros, undercover work is indispensable in the fight against organized crime. Chairman Jan Struijs of the Dutch Police Union (NPB) spoke to De Telegraaf about “crying it out and starting over.”
Several critical reports have been published about the undercover department. According to those involved, the department has a “toxic and manipulative work atmosphere.” According to the Justice and Security Inspectorate, this has also caused dangerous situations. The Brouwer committee, which investigated the suicide within the team, stated that the suicide was linked to the undercover cop’s work. Team leaders paid too little attention to the signs that he was not doing well.
The new organization will put employees’ well-being central and pay “a lot of attention to new frameworks and (ethical) standards that should further professionalize undercover work.” According to De Telegraaf, all current undercover officers will get other positions or a position in the new team.
Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security) told parliament that she shares the view that “substantial improvements are needed.” She added that the phasing out of the undercover department does not diminish “the great dedication and efforts that have been made by all employees involved. Great achievements have been made within the covert domain.”
Reporting by ANP