All community police officers are to receive training in recognising the signs of human trafficking as part of the new Dutch government’s anti-exploitation drive.
Each of the 170 district units will appoint a liaison officer and 20 officers a year across the country will be retrained to specialise in human trafficking. Community officers and front-counter station staff will learn how to look for signs of exploitation when investigating crimes, for instance by checking if young shoplifters are stealing to order.
The number of recorded victims of human trafficking fell between 2014 and 2016 from 1,561 – the highest figure in the European Union – to 1,049, while 103 people were convicted of the offence. However, researchers have estimated that the true figure could be five times as high.
Jan Koen, police specialist in human trafficking, said local officers were missing signals of exploitation in their communities. ‘We need to turn that gut feeling into action,’ he told NRC.
Around 40,000 police personnel will receive the training. The force will also invest resources in researching potential exploitation online, such as adverts for sexual services.