4.2 Current policy and policy reinforcements – General
A movement is ongoing to provide the police with even better tools to handle reports made by victims of exclusion. An essential part of this development is the action program The Police is for Everyone (Politie voor Iedereen). Parliament is regularly kept up to date of developments through semi-annual police reports.
The program The Police is for Everyone calls attention to the importance of strengthening the networks that are part of the Diverse Skills Network, including the Jewish Network and the network of LGBTIQ+ police offers called Pink in Blue. The program The Police is for Everyone is underpinned by safe and inclusive teams that form an important pillar, and the use of inclusive language is the standard. The police also applies an ‘ally approach’, which may consist of keeping in touch with networks of citizens coming from different groups in society.
The police officers who make up the Pink in Blue network support the LGBTIQ+ community, for instance by reporting incidents when requested and wherever possible. The NCDR recognizes the necessity of maintaining the national telephone contact number for Pink in Blue, so that it remains accessible and any reports can be followed up on.
As the police has far-reaching powers in our society, it is key to the police’s legitimacy and people’s trust in the police that everyone feels that the police treats them fairly. As such, it is only right that the police already recognizes the ethnic profiling problem and is actively tackling it. Carrying out professional checks is one of the skills police offers need to possess. The police has started a project to increase the professionalism of the checks, and it will be developed, fine-tuned and implemented. The project will also cover the use of the Proco app, virtual reality glasses and other ways to increase awareness and accountability for arrests, and the associated monitoring. A point of study could be whether bodycams could be used as a means to check police actions. This might also produce a picture of citizens’ attitude towards police offers.
The coalition agreement highlights the deployment of police discrimination detectives to enhance expertise within the units when it comes to taking down reports of discrimination. As part of the action program The Police is for Everyone, for the next three and a half years the police will be carrying out a pilot project in which national expertise will be gained with tackling discrimination.
Reports of discrimination are important for gaining a better understanding of how to fight discrimination. The police must act in line with the Discrimination Instruction of the Public Prosecution Service to the greatest extent possible if and when a citizen wants to report discrimination. This involves not only taking down the report, but also properly informing the citizen about the follow-up process and what the citizen may expect in this regard. The Center of Expertise on Tackling Discrimination of the police is preparing a framework for action to support police employees in the units.
The police has set itself the goal of continuing to work towards a diverse and inclusive organization in the years to come, as it aims to be a reflection of society. The police considers it self-evident that there is a place for all suitable prospective employees to work for the police. The legitimacy of the police partly depends on it being a recognizable police; a precondition here is that diversity and inclusion are fully embedded in the organization. This calls for vigilance in that targets are not the only point of concern; promotion and an inclusive working environment in the organization are other factors to be considered.
The police exists for everybody and by the grace of everybody, and serves the whole of society. The police wishes to be inclusive and to be a true reflection of society. One question currently occupying society is whether this desire is expressed in the regulations laid down in the lifestyle neutrality code of conduct. This code specifies that police employees (and special investigating officers), while on duty in uniform, must refrain from all expressions reflecting a political, religious or other preference – which could thereby detract from a safe and neutral professional attitude – which prevents certain groups of people being eligible to perform police tasks.
At the same time, the Dutch Parliament recently tabled two motions i to emphasize that the secularity of government is of special value in our state structure and that, as a result, any expressions of religious conviction on the police uniform are inappropriate. It turns out that the social discussion on this topic is far from reaching its final conclusion, and the discussion on the extent to which religious expressions such as a headscarf or a yarmulke as part of the clothing of, for example, a police officer detract from the neutrality of the government needs to be continued. With a view to the future, the NCDR is keen to engage in that dialogue with all affected parties and stakeholders.
Legitimate police operations and trust in the police can only continue to exist if citizens are able to submit complaints about behavior displayed by the police or police officers and if these complaints are adequately addressed. The police intends to make its complaints handling procedure more professional, partly based on the recommendations stated in the National Ombudsman’s report Verkleurde beelden (‘Colored Pictures’). In doing so, the police will also ensure that complaints are handled within short periods of time and that the procedure is focused primarily on establishing the truth. Seeking to increase safety and inclusivity in teams, the police is improving the ways in which internal complaints and reports about discriminatory behavior within the police organization itself are handled.
In line with the Regional Mayors’ proposals – the Regional Mayors’ Strategic Agenda 2022-2025 – a wide-ranging investigation by an independent research institute is due to take place in the police into discrimination and racism within the police organization, which will partly be aimed at determining the effectiveness of the police force’s own antidiscrimination policy. The State Commission against Discrimination and Racism could take up this investigation.
There may be good reasons not to punish the perpetrators of discrimination and racism by merely sentencing them to a fine or imprisonment, but to consider whether additional community service (or a training order for juveniles) would be advisable. The purpose would be to make it clear to perpetrators why discrimination and racism are unacceptable. Because these punitive measures clearly show the impact of discrimination and racism on victims, they are expected to be effective in preventing repeat offenses. By way of illustration, in the past a few people who had expressed their antisemitic sentiments were ordered by the court to perform community service, which was to be carried out partly in the Anne Frank House. i
Depending on the discriminatory ground, several civil society organizations may be called upon to develop ideas for an educational program for young offenders. These organizations (for example the Anne Frank House and COC, a Dutch LGBTIQ+ organization) may also have a role to play in the implementation of these training orders.
Good examples of similar options for imposing sanctions are found in minor traffic violations. The Educational Measure Alcohol is a well-known example, under which a person convicted of a drink driving offence is required to follow a compulsory rehabilitation course. Similarly, an ‘Educational Measure Discrimination’ may be introduced as a type of alternative training order.
There are growing calls – expressed among others by the Council for the Judiciary – for a constitutional review of formal laws. Although formal laws can already be reviewed on the basis of the fundamental principles of law as formulated in international treaties, the same purpose could equally well be served by our own Constitution, also because our own Constitution is better known to Dutch citizens.
The Government recently sent an outline letter on this subject. i
We must attempt to avoid any elements of exclusion in our laws. Even if such an element is neutrally formulated, it can in practice result in the indirect exclusion of groups of people based on their socioeconomic class, income or other characteristics. In that context, the Government intends to identify as soon as possible the potential effects that the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) Act has on specific groups of people in practice, and the consequences these have for their ability to participate in the financial services sector. This identification process is in line with a motion adopted on March 30, 2022, which calls upon the government to urgently investigate the risk selections that banks employ to implement the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) Act. i
It is also essential for tackling institutional discrimination that existing government inspectorates have a clear understanding of institutional discrimination within their purview and are able to take enforcement action where necessary. A general guideline for inspections is being prepared for that purpose.
Parliamentary Documents II 2021-2022, 35 925 VI, no. 41 and no. 56.
See judgment ECLI:NL:RBUTR:2011:BP0216.
Parliamentary Documents II 2021-2022, 35 925-VII-169.
Parliamentary Documents II 2021-2022, 31 477, no. 66.