Police union rep praises far-right MP who is leaving politics

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A Dutch police union chief has been criticized for his praise of an MP for the far-right PVV who is leaving politics at the general election.

Jan Struijs, who heads the Nederlandse Politie Bond, described Lilian Helder as an “MP who sticks up for police officers on the job”.  “She has an excellent knowledge of the subject and regularly supports police officers with words and deeds,” he said on social media.

Helder, who said she is quitting for “personal and content-related” reasons, is one of over a dozen MPs who have said they are leaving parliament after the November vote.

Stephan van Baarle, an MP for minority rights party Denk, described the tweet as “incomprehensible”. Helder is an MP who “wants to stop women with headscarves working for the police, raises doubts about police officers with ethnic minority roots and wants to throw dual nationals out of the force,” he said.

Helder was also praised by justice minister Dilan Yesilgoz, who said she would be “sorely missed” as an MP.

The police have been struggling to improve their image following a string of racist and discriminatory incidents and earlier this month Oost Nederland police chief Janny Knol said she is taking disciplinary measures against six police officers caught making racist comments while on a private outing to Paris.

Serving police officers made dozens of complaints about racist or discriminatory behaviour by colleagues in the six months to April, the NRC reported earlier this year.  This was the first time the police have given an overview of complaints within the force, many of which were made by senior officers.

One of the reports involved an officer in The Hague who was sent home after making ‘extremely inappropriate comments’ on social media. The officer is an active member of the far-right PVV party and was a candidate in the local elections last year.

Acting national police chief Liesbeth Huyzer told the NRC at the time that banning police officers from joining democratically elected political parties was neither possible nor desirable, but more should be done to ensure they carry out their duties in a neutral way and respect the constitution.

No one knows how many police officers are members of the PVV, but ‘research suggests police officers lean more to the right,’ she told the paper. Several stood as candidates for the party in the 2022 local elections.

The national police force did not respond to Dutch News requests for comment.

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