National police force plan draws fire
3 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Sharp parliamentary criticism has been directed at Interior Minister Johan Remkes' plan to replace the 26 regional police corps with a nationwide force he claims will better tackle "large national problems".3 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Sharp parliamentary criticism has been directed at Interior Minister Johan Remkes' plan to replace the 26 regional police corps with a nationwide force he claims will better tackle "large national problems".
On the eve of Monday's police budget parliamentary discussions, the Lower House of Parliament reacted negatively to the minister's plan — which could be introduced by 2005 — with opposition party Labour PvdA claiming it was an admission of weakness, an NOS news report said.
PvdA MP Peter van Heemst said the minister was focusing too much attention on police structure instead of capacity and concerns of public safety. He also said Remkes wanted to get rid of the "critical and troublesome corps administrators". Mayors presently serve as the regional police corps administrators.
lso hesitant about a national corps, saying that the present public safety plan should be carried out in full. Spokesman Clemens Cornielje said the party was open to debate about the nation's police, but said mayors should remain responsible for local order and safety.
The Dutch public is increasingly concerned about public safety and amid massive government economising, public funding is still being directed to expand police capacity and the number of jail cells. But Minister Remkes also said a national police force could better fight national problems.
Regional police forces presently come under the administration of the nation's mayors, but a national police force would come under the leadership of the Interior Minister. Remkes aims to gain greater power of the police because his ministerial portfolio makes him responsible for public safety. He claims to have insufficient authority over police operations, news agency Novum reported.
Remkes also said the mayors who act as police administrators should be responsible to him, allowing him to take actions over their performance. The minister said the new system could be introduced in 2005.
But populist LPF MP Joost Eerdmans also rejected the minister's plan, saying that directly-elected mayors should remain responsible for the police. He also said a ministerial position should be created in which the authority over the police force could be concentrated in the hands of a so-called Safety Minister, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
Meanwhile, the nation's corps administrators reacted with disbelief to the minister's proposal, but remain tight-lipped about the matter. A spokesman said the administrators wanted to wait and see what the minister actually meant, but admitted legislation gave Remkes authority to make changes to police policy if he thought them necessary.
Police employee union Nederlandse Politiebond labelled plans for a national police force as "bad", with a spokesman claiming that the already large gulf between the public and police would only widen.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news and policing