Continued investment in security and surveillance - guardians of the rule of law

The threat posed by serious crime, jihadis and the extreme right, combined with the increase in anti-government sentiment and polarisation, has resulted in a significant increase in the need to use intensive security and surveillance to protect people and properties for lengthy periods of time - sometimes even for many years. Security and surveillance like this require the operational deployment of police and Marechaussee officers and have major and sweeping consequences for both the people to be protected and the capacity available in the security and surveillance system.

'In our country, there are journalists, lawyers, politicians and judges who, because they do their work conscientiously and serve the legal system, find themselves subject to threats, intimidation or even worse. We have a duty to ensure these people are able to do their work as safely as possible'

 comments Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.

Following the horrific murders of the brother of a crown witness in 2018 and a Dutch lawyer (Derek Wiersum) in 2019, a number of initiatives were set in motion to improve the quality of security and surveillance, strengthen capacity and improve the resilience of lawyers, judges, public prosecutors and journalists. In October last year, the Bos Committee advised and gave recommendations - as requested - on how to improve the security and surveillance system, making it possible to continue to respond effectively to current and future threats. The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (Nationaal Coördinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid (NCTV)), the police, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (Openbaar Ministerie) and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee) have made great strides and will continue to do so.

Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius:

'Many of the organisations and professionals involved are prioritising efforts to strengthen, reinforce and improve the flexibility of the system; a lot is weight is being put on their shoulders. The professionals involved range from people who patrol the street every day to those who prepare threat assessments: everyone is working hard - day in, day out - to make sure judges, lawyers, journalists and politicians are able to walk the streets safely.'

New security concepts are being developed and capacity deployed more flexibly to ensure that efficiency is improved. For example, the security used to protect Amsterdam’s Jewish organisations is no longer static but dynamic: security solutions are tailor-made. New technologies will be introduced too, including sensors that facilitate the early detection of suspicious behaviour. A ‘package’ system will be developed as well, paving the way for more variation between the current low- and high-level security regime. However, the security and surveillance to be provided will continue to be determined on a case-by-case basis and specific requirements considered. The new packages will be developed with specific threats and circumstances in mind. Because the people to be protected are best placed to say just how much measures affect their personal and work lives, they will also be involved in the roll-out of the recommendations and the implementation of improvements.

Surveillance and security will become one of the Dutch police force’s core tasks, because of which each regional team will have its own security and surveillance team. Basic community policing needs to be brought back up to strength as well. With permanent teams in place, fewer community and patrol police officers will need to be deployed for security and surveillance services. Four of the country’s 10 police units currently have these teams and the other six will have them before the end of 2022. Also, initial steps have already been taken to secure extra surveillance and security capacity with both the police and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee.