Opstelten: Introduction of national police force is necessary to solve IT problems

The introduction of a national police force is an important condition to end the IT problems encountered by the police. In order to do their job, police officers must have reliable and accessible information systems. If there is only one police organisation, it will be possible to take the necessary measures towards the provision of information and an IT infrastructure that is nationally organised and that will support police officers on the streets and police detectives better and more effectively. This is what Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice wrote to the Lower House of Parliament in response to the Police IT Report 2010 by the Netherlands Court of Audit that was issued today.

At the Minister’s request, the Netherlands Court of Audit conducted a study into the state of the IT system at the police. The report stated that the IT system does not yet properly support the work of the police. Minister Opstelten shares the conclusions of the Netherlands Court of Audit that the IT problems encountered by the police cannot be attributed to one party or to a limited number of parties. The report reveals that too many parties are currently involved and that the body of responsible persons has failed. This also applies to the supervisory role of the Minister. These findings cannot be considered separately from the current regional police system. The conclusions from the report make it clear that the IT system at the police must be controlled centrally in the future. This will become possible with the introduction of a national police force. In order to be able to deal with the IT problems, it is also necessary to bring about a cultural change at the police. The work of the police officer must become the focus of attention.

Effective support of police work requires that police officers can share available information through the same IT facilities which are also optimally user-friendly. Standardisation of the work processes at the police is a prerequisite to achieve this. After the introduction of the national police, the national police force management team will be fully in charge of the supervision of the IT system at the police. This will make it possible to establish one national information management that will support police officers better.

Minister Opstelten earlier announced that he will send an action plan for improving the IT system at the police to the Lower House of Parliament after the summer. This plan will also include all conclusions and recommendations made by the Netherlands Court of Audit. In the short term, the Minister will take measures to make the existing IT facilities more stable and more user-friendly. For example, police officers will soon be able to use strongly-simplified versions of the 16 forms in the National Law Enforcement Database that are used most.