Justice minister Ivo Opstelten has too much influence over the national police force, according to local mayors who have spoken to the NRC.
The national police force was introduced in January this year, merging 25 regional forces into a single force with 10 regional divisions. Prior to the merger, policing fell under the home affairs ministry.
At the time of the merger, the senate said it was worried a national police force could become too powerful, and Opstelten adjusted his plans to take that into account.
He told the senate the justice ministry would set the national police force budget and oversee its annual financial report. It would also decide how many agents are allocated to each of the 10 regional divisions.
However, local government officials would decide the areas they want the police to focus on, Opstelten said.
In a series of conversations with local mayors, the NRC has discovered they are irritated at the influence Opstelten wields.
According to Eindhoven’s mayor Rob van Gijzel, Opstelten is not only deciding on police priorities but also ‘the way in which the police handle cases’.
The regular consultations between mayors and minister are described by mayors as ‘ill-considered’ and ‘arbitrary’. One of them told the paper: ‘Opstelten would do well to take the consultation more seriously’.
The mayors are supported by the king’s commissioner in Flevoland, Leen Verbeek, who told the paper there are ‘strong signs’ the relationship between local authorities and the minister is ‘not particularly optimal’.
In a reaction, Opstelten told the paper: ‘The consultations are not yet as good as they should be, but the new policing system will be a success.’