Control over national police force by minister and local government better enshrined
Control by the Dutch minister of Security and Justice over the national police force is being laid down in more explicit terms. The Dutch Parliament will also be given more influence on police control. At the same time, the subordinate position of the Superintendent vis-à-vis the minister is delineated more clearly. With these changes, Minister Opstelten is addressing and dealing with the points of criticism as raised by several members of the Dutch Upper House of Parliament regarding the way control over the national police is enshrined in the new Police Bill. Mr Opstelten, the Minister of Security and Justice, wrote this in reply to questions raised by the Upper House regarding the new Police Bill.
Minister Opstelten is also willing to improve the position of local government. For example, the ‘regional mayor’ will be appointed on the recommendation of the mayors in the region in question. Moreover, the minister wants to give mayors and public prosecutors, who exercise authority over the police, more influence on the way the police has to perform its duties, and on police capacity. The motions are supplementary to the new Police Bill and will be submitted as soon as possible after the law has been passed. With these changes, it will be more clearly delineated that the police is at the disposal of those in power and that the minister has maximum control over the way the police is managed.
The new Police Bill, which is presently under review by the Upper House, provides for the introduction of a national police force that should result in better policing and a higher level of security. The current 25 regional police forces and the National Police Services Agency will merge into one national police force, divided into ten regional units, one national unit and one operational support unit for matters such as IT and HR.
The Superintendent will be entrusted with running and managing the national police force. He will be subordinate to the minister of Security and Justice, and will also be answerable to the same. As several parties in the Upper House fear that the Superintendent will be too independent, Minister Opstelten wants to lay down the Superintendent’s subordinate position in more explicit terms and limit his powers. This means, among other things, that the minister will be the one to adopt the police budget, annual accounts and annual report. The law will also provide that the minister will determine the staffing levels for the various police units.
To bolster the role of Parliament in respect of police supervision, the minister is willing to submit motions on staffing levels and financial management first to Parliament. Moreover, the new Police Bill will be evaluated as early as three years after its enactment, looking specifically to the position of the Regional Mayor, the separate legal position of the police and the role of the Superintendent.