Community policing priorities stranded

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Large parts of the Netherlands have a shortage of community police officers. Zuid- and Oost-Nederland in particular are still failing to meet the standard of one police officer per 5 thousand residents, AD reports.

Former Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten promised last year that all police regions would have enough community police officers in their service by July 1st. But with July 1st being tomorrow, this does not seem likely.

Hundreds of extra community police officers are needed to have sufficient police presence on the streets, a spokesperson for the National Police told AD. In Oost-Nederland alone there is at least 70 vacancies. "We are caching up", the spokesperson said. "But because the reorganization of the National Police has been slowed, it is not possible to fill all vacancies now."

Mayors and police unions are very concerned about the situation. "The community police seem mostly to exist on paper", according to Michael Sijbom, mayor of Losser and chairman of the National Organization of Police Volunteers. According to him, community policemen hardly work in the community. "That should be 80 percent of their work, but in practice they mostly respond to 112 reports, because no other officers are available."

The CDA fears that this is putting the safety of towns and cities at risk. "Community police officers are the eyes and ears in a neighborhood. They can detect problems early and avoid them." Peter Oskam said to AD. He wants an explanation from Minister Ard van der Steur.

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