Opstelten: more expertise and decisiveness

The current 26 police forces will disappear and there will be one national police force under the responsibility of the Minister of Security and Justice. National organisation of the police will lead to less bureaucracy, increased unity, more professionalism, better and swifter cooperation between the various units of the police and more police officers involved in executive police duties. The objective is a safe living environment and more effective investigation. This is written today by Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten in a letter to the Lower House in which the main lines of the legislative proposal to introduce a national police force are set out. Upon recommendation of Minister Opstelten, the council of ministers has agreed to submit the legislative proposal for consultation.

Minister Opstelten: "Safety and police expertise are of primary importance to me. The Netherlands has to become safer for citizens." The Minister wants, inter alia, to have increased police presence in communities. Community police officers now spend 65 percent of their time in their community; the Minister wants to increase that percentage to 80 percent. The number of investigation hours will be extended as well, the reporting process will be simplified and the capacity for catching offenders in the act will be increased. Bureaucracy and overhead will both be reduced by 25 percent.

Strong local basis

The national police has its basis close to citizens, therefore in the community and the municipality. Jurisdiction of the police will therefore remain at the local level. The mayor will continue to manage the police in the enforcement of public order and provision of assistance in his municipality. The Public Prosecutor will continue to manage the police during investigations.

Minister Opstelten intends the legislative proposal to strengthen the role of the municipal council when determining the objectives for the police and the democratic management of the police at the national and local level.

One force

There will be one national police force, under the responsibility of the Minister of Security and Justice. The existing regional police forces, the National Police Services Agency, the Dutch Police Collaboration Facility and all other supra-regional facilities will be incorporated in this single police force, which will consist of ten regional units and one or more national operational units such as the current National Investigation Service. The ten regional units will be responsible for performance of the executive police duties in their area. They do so as part of the national police force. The boundaries of the regional units are similar to the proposed boundaries of the court districts (revised judicial map). This will simplify cooperation in the judicial chain.

Police management will come under the direct responsibility of one minister, the Minister of Security and Justice. This contributes to police unity in management and to social functioning, which allows the police to deal more flexibly and decisively with continuously changing safety problems. The supporting operation duties IT, accommodations, purchasing, personnel and organisation and financial management will concentrated in a single unit, where this results in efficiency gains. The efficiency gains will benefit the work on the street.

One Chief Constable

The Chief Constable will be charged with the management of the national police force, and is therefore also the figurehead of the national police. The Chief Constable will be in charge of the regional and national units of the police force. The Minister of Security and Justice will be in charge of the national Chief Constable and set the framework within the Chief Constable performs his duties.

New: the regional mayor

A new official within the police system is the regional mayor. The regional mayor is the mayor of the municipality with the largest number of inhabitants in one of the ten regional units. The regional mayor has a special role in the determination of the regional policy plan. If persons of authority (the mayors and chief public prosecutor) from the area of a regional unit cannot reach agreement concerning the above, the regional mayor will determine the policy plan.

Further procedure

Minister Opstelten today sent the legislative proposal for consultation, following approval by the council of ministers. He simultaneously sent a letter to the Lower House that sets out the main lines of the legislative proposal. The legislative proposal will be presented to the Council of State for its opinion following this consultation phase. The legislative proposal will be presented to the Lower House after the Council of State has provided its opinion. Minister Opstelten intends to have the legislative proposal enter into effect before 1 January 2012.