Minister Opstelten and State Secretary pursue security policy with vigour

In 2015 Minister Opstelten and State Secretary Teeven will continue their work on implementing the measures that were taken in recent years in order to increase security in the Netherlands. Although a lot has already been achieved halfway through the current government term, intensification is needed in order to realise the ambitions of the coalition agreement. The focus next year will be mainly on preparations for the European Presidency of the Netherlands which starts on 1 January 2016.

Increasing security in the Netherlands

The budget of the Ministry of Security and Justice in 2015 amounts to in excess of 11 billion euro. Funds that will be used, inter alia, to intensify the reduction in various – often persistent - forms of crime. This will take place based on the Security Agenda 2015-2018, which lists the national priorities of the police force. Extra funds will be made available for this intensification (10 million in 2015, increasing to 98 million in 2017).

The aim is to reinforce the integrated approach to undermining such crimes as drugs-related crime, human trafficking, fraud and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by means of judicial, administrative and public law-governed interventions and close collaboration between the partners involved. This should combat 950 criminal groups a year. In addition, the Netherlands is cooperating with France, Belgium and Luxembourg on an action programme for combatting cross-border drugs-related crime and mobile social crime (banditry).

The Public Prosecutions Office and the National Police force, together with local government, are going up a gear in the battle against undermining and organised crime in the southern Netherlands. This is in line with the integral approach that has been developed for the southern provinces of Limburg, Brabant and Zeeland. In connection with this, as of October 2014, 125 police officers will be made available from the existing capacity. The accent will be on targeting synthetic drugs and hemp cultivation.

Intensifying the fight against cyber-crime will lead to a sharp increase in the number of investigations, from 200 in 2015 to 360 in 2018. To this end, collaboration with the banks will also be given a new impulse. Moreover, next year wider powers for the police and the Public Prosecution Department will come into effect to improve the investigation of computer crime.

In 2015 Minister Opstelten wants indications of fraud and abuse to be processed faster, and new and existing rules to be assessed more strictly for fraud-proofing. Bottlenecks in data exchange will be removed as quickly as possible in order to improve the information position of the various government services. Consultation hours and theme-based sessions on bankruptcy fraud will be organised at a growing number of public prosecution offices in order to support investigative work.

Combatting high impact crimes such as domestic burglary, street robberies and assaults will continue unabatedly. The aim is to reduce the number of street robberies and assaults in 2015 to 6723 and 1648 respectively; in 2012 these figures were still 7,977 and 1982 respectively. The number of domestic burglaries must be reduced to 61,000 in 2018, compared with circa 91,000 in 2012.

The approach to human trafficking will receive more attention in 2015. The same applies to investigating and prosecuting cases of child pornography and child sex tourism, whereby the focus will increasingly be on complex cases. Confiscating criminal capital will become a standard component of every criminal case. The goal is to reap in excess of 100 million euro from criminals as of 2016.

National Security

The ‘Integral approach to Jihadism’ action programme will be implemented vigorously in 2015. The plan involves, among other things, measures to stop recruiters and preachers of hate, as well as to combat the online dissemination of jihadist propaganda and introduce a periodical obligation to report to the police or an order prohibiting contact in order to prevent further radicalisation and recruiting.

A lot will be happening in the field of cyber-security in 2015: Further collaboration with private critical organisations in order to improve the capacity for detecting digital threats. More exchange of data and expertise, and reducing the vulnerability of organisations’ ICT. The latter will take place based on the National Cyber-Security Strategy. The government, the corporate sector and the scientific world will also jointly launch a cyber-security platform.

Reinforcing the rule of law

Reinforcing the Performance of the Criminal Justice System (VPS), including the Criminal Decisions Implementation Chain (USB), continues to be a priority. The Public Prosecutions Department and the police will continue to work on improving the procedures for reporting crimes. Next year dealing with common crime will receive a massive impulse due to the nation-wide introduction of the ZSM (accelerated) procedures.

As of 1 January 2015, Victim Support Netherlands will be connected with the ten ZSM-locations in order to provide victims with help. As a result they will be able to reach as many as 100,000 victims a year. The Central Fine Collection Agency (CJIB) will also start their Administration and Information Execution Centre (AICE) that passes information on to the police, the Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI) and probations organisations (3RO) in order to improve the speed and efficiency with which enforcement tasks are implemented. The aim is to have all partners in the chain communicating with one another digitally by 2016.

Civil law procedures will be simplified and digitised within the framework of the Quality and Innovation in the Judicial system (KEI) programme. An e-sub-district will be available for all litigants next year. In addition, on 1 January 2015 the first measures will come into effect for modernising the system of subsidised legal aid. Afterwards, State Secretary Teeven will send a specification of the system to the Lower House in the form of legislation.

National police force

1 January 2015 will see the start of the “robust” basic teams and the district investigation service in which local beat officers will play a leading role. By the end of 2015 the entire police organisation will have been organised according to the National Police Force Development Plan. The same applies to business operations, which will be controlled centrally via the police services centre (PDC). Next year will also see further work being done on structurally modernising the police ICT and making sure it is future-proof. Implementing the action programme “Fewer rules, more on the beat” should improve police performance. The national police force will take over responsibility for the Police Academy.

Lead role for victims

Although the position of victims has improved considerably during recent years, State Secretary Teeven plans to continue his policy of supporting victims. This is why legal aid to victims will be reinforced, partly by improving referrals to lawyers by Victim Support Netherlands. High registration requirements and good training courses are also expected to result in top-quality lawyers who are specialised in assisting victims.

Immigration and asylum

The influx of asylum seekers rose more sharply since the spring of 2014 than was expected, partly as a result of human trafficking. State Secretary Teeven has taken measures to counteract this, whereby strict supervision and enforcement will go hand-in-hand with meticulous asylum policy. Nevertheless, reception capacity is still under a lot of pressure. Expectations are that in 2015 the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) will provide shelter to (on average) circa 25,000 asylum seekers.

Next year European legislation will be introduced for forming a Common European Asylum System. Adjustments will be needed in some aspects of the Dutch procedures. Once again in 2015, improving cooperation and control by the authorities involved in asylum and migration matters will remain high on the agenda, for example, because of the digital exchange of documents. Tackling criminal and illegal aliens who cause nuisance and fraud relating to admission, such as bogus marriages, will remain a spearhead of policy. The State Secretary will also improve the medical care of aliens, e.g., by improving the exchange of information.

The parliamentary debate on the legislative proposal for Repatriation and Detention is planned to take place in 2015. Aliens in temporary custody or border detention will soon fall under a regulatory regime. Being available for deportation is pivotal in this respect. The aim is to promote the repatriation of aliens who have exhausted all legal remedies.

Games of chance

A minimum of 80% of online players will be able to play safely and responsibly with a licensed operator as early as during the present government’s term of office. Preparations are also taking place for the sale (subject to conditions) of Holland Casino in 2017. Furthermore, new operators will be granted access to the market in games of chance. Furthermore, a revised Gaming Machines Decree will be put before parliament and preparations are taking place for adjusting the lottery licensing system.