Police refuse to enforce burka ban
Amsterdam police will arrest women in burkas, even if a ban is introduced. That's according to Police chief Bernhard Welten, who said on public television that police officers have to use their common sense. "I do not feel that I should always be an instrument of the government who always does what is asked."
In response, Freedom Party MP Hero Brinkman, a former policeman himself, strongly criticised the chief, “The police should be subservient to the authorities. The government and parliament make the laws. The police enforce them. We would be a banana republic if it were the other way around.”
He called on the interior minister to take action against Mr Welten, although he fell short of actually calling for his resignation. On Twitter, the MP wrote, “Welten is leaving this year. Pity, would have liked to see him sacked.”
On public radio, Mr Brinkman said regional police chiefs had abused the ability to use their own discretion for years, but he predicted this would no longer happen under the current government. The Dutch police force is due to be reorganised, with regional police corps merging into a national force, thus having only one police commissioner in future.
The controversial proposal to ban face-covering garments was stipulated as part of the coalition agreement between the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats. The minority government is supported in parliament by the anti-Islam Freedom Party.
It is not the only government policy to have been questioned by police chief Welten. According to independent civil service journal , he also said he saw little value in the introduction of 500 "animal cops", which the cabinet has announced. After his New Year's speech Mr Welten said, "I jokingly call them the hamster police. These people have to come from our current capacity which is already under pressure."
In mass circulation daily , Freedom Party MP Dion Graus, who is the party's spokesperson on animal rights, said it was "a deep disgrace that a police chief should say such a thing."
But Mr Wleton doesn't stand alone. In the report, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhaard van der Laan said Mr Welten had a point, “but if the government decides there have to be animal cops then we have to carry out the policy." The Mayor of Venlo also doubted the wisdom of the decision, saying, "Sorry, but we have other priorities in Venlo."
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