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Police and Public

NCJ Number
DELIKT EN DELINKWENT Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: (1980) Pages: 23-28
H H Kirchheiner
Date Published
6 pages
Proposed changes in Dutch police law intended to improve police-community relations are discussed.
The Dutch Ministers of Justice and of Internal Affairs have proposed establishment of a commission to review complaints about behavior of particular officers toward citizens. The commission is to have at least five members and is to be headed by a judge. The commission is to investigate complaints and to pass justified claims on to the appropriate justice authorities. The commission will not have the right to investigate unless complaints are lodged or to determine what measures should be taken against offending officers. As a result of this new institution, the public is supposed to know that its complaints are not falling on deaf ears. Such a commission, however, would have little real power and would only disappoint public expectations. Instead, he proposes establishment of an ombudsman of the type found in Scandinavia to check into claims of improper behavior by police officers. Both inquiry and judgment powers are in the hand of the independent ombudsman, who is chosen by the Parliament. Public feelings of security are intensified by the direct contact between the citizens registering complaints and the ombudsman. Furthermore, only complainants themselves may register complaints but not citizens secondarily involved. In addition, it is unlikely that a commission appointed by the Ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs and thus responsible to the same authorities as the police could really act independently. The head of the commission in particular should have the freedom to make entirely independent decisions. Finally, the commission would only be competent to hear charges within its particular district when the complaints are directly related to acts committed by an officer in the performance of his duty. Nothing is mentioned about acts not related to the performance of officers' duty, limiting the area of competence of such a commission still further. Notes are supplied.