Understaffing and heavy workload still an issue for police
The heavy workload currently being experienced by the police as a result of understaffing in area-based policing and the pressure being put on operational deployability – due to the many demonstrations being organised, (increased) police deployment in surveillance and security settings and the growing number of reports about mentally disturbed individuals, for example – is not expected to change in the foreseeable future.
It will be vital for other police units to step up to help ensure there continues to be a sufficient police presence. This will require a flexible approach and the deployment of police units and police officers across the board. Although the measures already implemented, including the recruitment of new police officers and the reduction in the length of training given to new recruits, are helpful, their full impact will only be felt well into 2024. These are the views that Minister Grapperhaus expressed in his Letter to Parliament on the subject of area-based policing and policy capacity, which was submitted to the House of Representatives today.
“In recent years, we have said that police capacity will dip as a result of the many officers choosing to leave the profession. If the police are to continue to do their work (law enforcement and coming to the assistance of members of the public) well in these challenging times, difficult choices will sometimes need to be made – in respect of new duties and national or local priorities, for example. As a society, we should have great respect for our police officers, who continue to commit themselves to doing their work well despite the difficult situation we currently find ourselves in. The Chief of the Dutch police has decided to give all his staff an explicit and tangible gesture of his appreciation. I support this gesture wholeheartedly.”
It is anticipated that the problem outlined above will resolve itself in the years ahead and that staffing levels as a whole and for area-based policing in particular will have recovered by 2024‑2025. Efforts to expand national operational capacity by 2,400 FTE are well under way. One of the core elements of these efforts is to encourage people to join the policing profession. The numbers of individuals applying is surpassing expectations. To restore (and expand) policing capacity faster, a decision was recently made to review basic police training, reducing it from three to two years and making it more future-proof.
In the meantime, additional measures need to be put in place to combat current shortfalls in police staffing levels as much as possible. Various solutions are possible. For example, the deployment of officers from regional crime squads, information hubs and flex teams or operational experts or staff who are active in a programme or policy-related role could potentially yield several hundred extra FTEs of deployable capacity. In the years ahead, the police will take significant steps to ensure that they are equal to the challenges they face, both now and in the future. It will take until 2024‑2025 to fully implement the plans made possible by the current government.