Minister Opstelten: filing a police report easier for citizens

As of 1 January 2013, it will be easier for citizens to file a report to the police. Anyone calling the police to file a report will be given ‘tailor-made’ assistance. Depending on the severity of the offence, citizens will be able to file a report via the internet, by telephone, at home or at the police station. Moreover, citizens will soon be allowed to file reports from anywhere in the Netherlands, thanks to the introduction of the ‘national police force’. It will no longer be necessary to go to the police station of the municipality in which the crime was committed.

Improving the reporting procedure is one of the key focus areas of the national police force that will be inaugurated on 1 January. The introduction of a national police force will put an end to the differences between the reporting procedures at the various police forces. The provision of ‘tailor-made’ service will be rolled out throughout the force from 1 January. Minister Opstelten so stated in his response to a report entitled ‘Filing Reports Putting Citizens First?' (‘Aangifte doen: de burger centraal?’), which has been drawn up by the Dutch Security and Justice Inspectorate (Inspectie Veiligheid en Justitie) and was sent to the Dutch Lower House today.

In its report, the Inspectorate has drawn the conclusion that the reporting procedure of the police does not sufficiently meet the needs and expectations of citizens. For the most part, they have a negative opinion of the reporting procedure. As information is vague or not unambiguous, citizens do not clearly know how to file a report, what is subsequently done and the reasons for this. According to the Inspectorate, the significant differences between the various police forces also contributes towards the negative opinion of citizens. The Inspectorate believes that the reporting procedure should become more user-friendly. In addition, the police should inform citizens in a structured manner on what action is taken with regard to the report filed.

Minister Opstelten endorses the conclusions of the Security and Justice Inspectorate. “My ambition for the reporting procedure is that citizens and businesses should not only know where and when they can file a report, but also that they can rely on action being taken once they have done so, or that they are informed if follow-up turns out to be impossible. And that they know exactly when they will hear from the police again, and who will be their contact”, Opstelten wrote.

According to Opstelten, the national police force will give priority to the implementation of the improvements in the reporting procedure. The basis of this strategy is the police being available 24/7 hours by telephone. If citizens wish to file a report, they will call the police. Together, they will decide on the best option for filing the report: via the internet, by telephone, at the informant’s home or at the police station. To improve the reporting procedure, the existing police guidelines will be replaced by a single uniform and stricter guideline. More attention will also be paid to reporting during the training of police officers.

The handling of reports and feedback to citizens also needs to improve. As of 1 January 2013, the police will personally inform anyone who reports a burglary. Within two weeks, they will be informed of what progress has been made with regard to the reported burglary. As of 1 January 2014, any informant of other high-impact crimes, such as hold-ups and street robbery, will receive the first feedback in person within 2 weeks maximum. To further improve the handling of filed reports, the entire reporting procedure of the police will be screened. Mid-2013, the Minister and the police will announce further measures.