Dekker: preventing and addressing integrity violations

There must be no doubt as to the government's integrity in a state based on the rule of law. Integrity violations, criminal offences and influencing of public administration by organised crime should therefore be forcefully combated.

 ‘Citizens must be able to trust in the absolute integrity and reliability of civil servants. This trust is crucial to our rule of law’,

said Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker.

In order to prevent integrity violations and address them more effectively, the government intends to improve the use of information available to the police. This news emerged from a letter that Minister Dekker sent to the Lower House of Parliament together with the Police Data (Certificate of Good Conduct) Bill (wetsvoorstel VOG-politiegegevens).

‘We need to prevent shady individuals from trying to abuse their position and undermine government efforts. Organised crime is exerting pressure on the government, and there is a growing number of information breaches and corruption cases’,

the Minister stated in his letter.

The 2018 Annual Report of the Public Prosecution Service confirms this rise in information breaches (from 23 to 32) and corruption cases (from 22 to 33). These cases are very serious and complex, involving frequent contacts with organised crime. Dekker is therefore launching two initiatives.

The first initiative is a preventive measure, the Police Data (Certificate of Good Conduct) Bill. Under this regulation, information from police systems will be enough to refuse someone a Certificate of Good Conduct.
In future, police systems could also be consulted when screening candidates for positions in which they may use force or have access to sensitive information, for example. Such consultation currently occurs only if a person has already been involved with the justice system.

The intended use of police data for a certificate of good conduct concerns positions that require a high degree of integrity, to be designated by ministerial regulation. At any rate, they will include positions with the Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI) such as prison officers, public prosecutors at the Public Prosecution Service and certain categories of special investigating officers.

The Minister expects that making better use of the information available to the police will prevent integrity violations.

The second initiative, the Thematic Approach to Bribery of Government Officials and Human Trafficking Decree (themaverwerking ambtelijke omkoping en mensenhandel), will also improve the use of information from police systems. This measure aims to reinforce the investigation and prosecution of cases pertaining to bribery of a government official or labour exploitation as a form of human trafficking. The reason is that this thematic approach will facilitate the collection and analysis of police data on these serious, subversive crimes. This will enhance the intelligence position of the investigative services, which is of key importance to an adequate criminal-law approach. The Decree will come into force on 1 January 2020.

Dekker hopes that these two proposals will enable the careful as well as responsible use of police data to help prevent and address organised, subversive crime.