This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.

Policing overview: The Dutch National Police is called the “Politie” and consists of 25 regional police forces plus the National Police Services Agency. It is assisted by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, a military entity which, during peacetime, performs the duties of a normal police service.

National Police

1. Functions and missions 
The tasks of the Netherlands National Police are described in the Police Act. Briefly summarized, the Act states that the police must ensure a safe and liveable society, and assist those in need. That means, inter alia, that the police must be visibly present in the streets, tackle crimes, such as car thefts and burglaries, deal with youth and vice issues, and fight violent and serious crime. Whereas in the 1970s the police tended to focus largely on the investigation of criminal offences, they now also put considerable emphasis on crime prevention. 

Apart from their daily work, the Dutch National Police have a number of specialized tasks that are either separate or carried out in support of basic police activities. Following is a list of these tasks that includes: 

  • investigations into such diverse crimes as trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, fraud, large-scale environmental crimes, and sexual offences; also information control, ranging from collecting and processing technical information to information on criminal organizations;

  • alien’s care, e.g. regulating the stay of non-Dutch nationals and exercising relevant supervision;

  • operational tasks supportive of basic police care and/or specialist tasks (e.g. Mounted Police, Canine Units, Public Safety and Security Units, Computer Crime Units, SWATs, Observation Units, Environmental Teams, Juvenile and Vice Squads).

2. Structure and organization 
The Dutch police is composed of 25 regional services and the National Police Services Agency - see organization chart in the Attachments section.

  • Twenty-five police regional services are responsible for policing in their respective geographical regions. Each is headed by a regional police board, consisting of mayors and a chief public prosecutor. Geographically speaking, each region is divided into a number of districts, which have both general and specialist tasks. Each district is composed of a number of basic units or bureaus. Moreover, each service has a number of specialist departments (e.g. Technical CID, Juvenile and Vice Squad, Identification Service, Criminal Intelligence Service and Aliens’ Police). 

  • The National Police Services Agency is headed by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (since January 2000). He is responsible, together with the Minister of Justice, for the overall quality of policing in the Netherlands. He also heads each of the regional police forces 'at arm's length' - meaning that he limits his interventions in principle to what is strictly necessary. The Agency carries out national and specialist police tasks. It collects, files, processes, manages, analyzes and distributes information, and carries out other support tasks. It guards the Royal Family and other important persons and procures police weaponry, uniforms and other equipment. Lastly, national crime investigation tasks have been incorporated into its overall mandate. An important and internationally known division of the Agency is the National Criminal Intelligence Division, which houses the national Interpol bureau.

3. Staff data 
In late 2002 the total strength of the Dutch Police was 52,500: that is, 36,800 police officers, approximately 3,600 trainees and 14,750 support staff in administrative and technical positions. Women accounted for about 18% of police personnel.

4. Oversight
A network of controls has been laid down in Dutch legislation so as to guarantee the manageability of the police. It is in keeping with Dutch tradition that no single body should have sole authority over the police, but that authority should be divided between the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Minister of Justice on the one hand and the provincial and municipal authorities, such as the Queen's Commissioner, mayor and municipal councils, on the other. Below is how it works in practice:

  • Administration: The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for the central administration of the police in the Netherlands. One of the mayors (“burgomasters”) in a region (often the one with the largest municipality) is force administrator. Together with the chief public prosecutor, he has ultimate responsibility for administering the police service.

  • Authority: This competence is vested in the “burgomaster” for the maintenance of public order and care, who is accountable to the city council. When the police is deployed to investigate a punishable offence, they follow the instructions of the public prosecutor who is a member of the Public Prosecution Department. The Public Prosecution Department, which falls under the Ministry of Justice, is responsible for maintaining legal order where it concerns violations of the Criminal Code.

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