Conclusion on evaluation of Police Act 2012: develop and improve further
Several aspects of the Police Act 2012 must be revised in order to achieve a better balance between politics, authority and police organisation. This revision entails improving the differentiation of roles fulfilled by the Minister of Justice and Security as owner, client, contractor and supervisor of the National Police. In this regard, the First Chief Constable must be given greater freedom to manage the organisation more effectively. Attention must also be devoted to a more decentralised approach to the work, with increased local regulatory freedom. In addition, it is important that the police gain a better understanding of the effects of their deployment. A monitoring and evaluation unit at the highest level should provide insight into this aspect. These points are the key conclusions and recommendations from the Police Act 2012 Evaluation Commission, which presented its final report to Minister Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) today.
Wim Kuijken, chair of the Police Act 2012 Evaluation Commission: ‘A great deal has changed within the police force in recent years. This change inevitably resulted in some unrest. Not everything went well. We believe that the formation of the National Police was significantly underestimated. The need for reassessment quickly arose. At the same time, high demands were placed on the police. It is commendable that their loyal service continued during “the renovation”. The formation of the National Police has unmistakeable advantages. For example, it allows faster scale-up, facilitates provision of assistance and fosters better collaboration. Public appreciation for the police has not decreased in recent times. However, adjustments are needed in order to ensure that the National Police is the incisive and effective organisation envisaged by the Act. No one really wants to go back to the situation that we had before the Act. After the difficult start, and taking into account the areas for improvement which are becoming evident, it is important that the Minister, mayors, Public Prosecution Service and police force continue to develop and improve the system in order to work together on a sustainable police system. The trade unions should be closely involved as well. To this end, we are making a number of concrete recommendations which can serve as agenda items for the years ahead. As a result, all involved parties can begin to take action.’
Apart from the obvious benefits, the Commission concludes that the new system has not led to a reduced administrative burden. The structure of units and districts, and the size of the basic teams, must once again be thoroughly scrutinised. The position of mayors from smaller municipalities and municipal councils has not improved within the new system. The business operations of the National Police are not yet in order. The total police budget has increased by 6%. Non-operational staff have been cut by 19%. The Commission cannot say whether the €230-million cutback has been achieved.
The Police Act 2012 Evaluation Commission has formulated the following recommendations.
For the Minister:
- Clarify the Minister's roles of owner, client/contractor and supervisor.
- Give the Chief of Police more freedom to provide policy-related and managerial direction to the police organisation; specify the Ministry’s authority to give orders.
- Maintain the National Consultation on Security and the Police (LOVP), but appoint an independent chair and ensure a separate position for the Chief of Police.
- In consultation with the Chief of Police and unions, draw up a road map for transferring the authority to conduct negotiations on Collective Labour Agreements to the Chief of Police.
- Design a more effective and efficient supervisory regime with a robust audit committee.
- Prevent a new local police layer from gradually arising. The police must take a directive role in organising security services between the police, local supervisory bodies, enforcement bodies/special investigation officers and private security guards.
For the management team:
- Examine the territorial and other structures of the police force with a view to possible adjustments.
- Allow for flexibility and customisation within the national frameworks.
- Set up and position a monitoring and evaluation unit at the highest level.
For all parties involved in the police system:
- Make the National Police a genuinely ‘national’ institution in the years ahead.
- Articulate and accept shared basic principles for management and development, and thus strike a balance between centralisation and decentralisation. Policy and management frameworks must be established which provide sufficient space for local and regional customisation.
- Perform another system evaluation in five years. This evaluation took place while the Act was still under development. As a consequence, the Commission cannot draw any definitive conclusions, but it has instead commented on the progress of the Act's implementation. The Commission’s recommendations are thus guidelines for further development of the new police system. A subsequent strategic evaluation in five years can draw more definitive conclusions on the effectiveness and impact of the Act in practice.
In accordance with Section 74.1 of the Police Act 2012, the Police Act 2012 Evaluation Commission has evaluated the Act within five years of its entry into force, and in this context has conducted numerous interviews and made several working visits to all police units over the last four years. On behalf of the Commission, scientists from universities and research agencies have conducted scientific research into various aspects of the Police Act 2012. To carry out the evaluation, a broadly composed sounding board group was set up and was actively involved in the evaluation.
The Police Act 2012 Evaluation Commission consists of: Mr W.J. Kuijken (chair), Mr P.J. Gortzak, Prof. P. ’t Hart, Prof. F.L. Leeuw, Ms W. Sorgdrager, Prof. S. van Thiel and General (ret.) P.J.M van Uhm.