The government is to invest an extra €2.5 million in personal security for local politicians after figures showed more than half were on the receiving end of threats or intimidation last year.
Interior affairs minister Hanke Bruins Slot said she also wanted to make it easier for mayors, councillors and members of provincial and water authorities to arrange personal protection.
Research carried out for the ministry found that the number of officials who experienced abusive behaviour in the last year had doubled since 2014, when the figure was 26%.
At the moment officials can apply for a fixed package of measures up to a spending limit of €2,500. Any extra costs need to be signed off by their local council, which can lead to awkward situations, Bruins Slot said in a letter to parliament.
The government wants to ensure local and provincial politicians can obtain independent advice on what security measures should be taken to protect themselves and their families. Councils, provinces and water boards would be expected to adopt the recommendations.
Bruins Slot said she wanted to make sure candidates were not deterred from standing in future elections ‘because they were afraid of being threatened’.
She added that the appeals and complaints procedure was coming under strain from professional criminals who manipulated it to gain access to politicians.
‘Appeals and complaints procedures are a valuable thing, but when criminals with deep pockets abuse them to intimidate officials and civic leaders, it damages and undermines our democracy,’ she said.
‘I see it as my job to offer a protective shield to those officials who work in the front line of our democracy.’
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