Police chief and Freedom Party clash over burka ban

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Amsterdam police will not arrest women in burkas if a ban is introduced. Police chief of the Amsterdam corps Bernhard Welten said in a public television programme 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 on public broadcaster station Radio 1, Freedom Party MP Hero Brinkman, a former policeman himself, strongly criticised the police 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 the radio, Mr Brinkman said regional police chiefs had abused the room they have to use their own discretion for years. He predicted this will no longer happen under the current government. The Dutch police force is due to be reorganised. Regional police corps will be merged into a national force, which means in the future there will be just one police commissioner.

A proposal to ban garments which cover the face is contained in 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 police chief Welten questioned. According to independent civil service journal , he also said he saw little 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 and that is under pressure."

In mass circulation daily , Freedom Party MP Dion Graus, who is spokesperson on animal rights, said it was "a deep disgrace that a police chief should say such a thing."

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 the policy out." Mayor of Venlo also doubted the wisdom of the decision. He said, "Sorry, but we have other priorities in Venlo."




© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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