Here’s a good one for you….how many of you in your country of origin would see regular news reports of a major crime that took place which included CCTV footage of the crime itself and of course of the assailants, with the investigating detective then being interviewed and he/she asking for witnesses to come forward? Hands-up, how many?
Well, it seems that this long standing practice has suddenly found its way onto Dutch TV screens. I always wondered why so many of my Dutch friends had no faith in the Dutch Police. I had always assumed that it was more to do with the incessant doling out of fines for everything from illegal parking to cycling your bike with no light on, rather than actually doing real police work.
This theory was compounded further when experienced an attempted (and thankfully failed) burglary in our own home. The police came out, took a statement from myself and my neighbour, and then two weeks later I got a letter from the police saying that they would not be investigating the crime a) because nothing was stolen (but there was damage) and b) they had no evidence which they could use.
Their second point saw me go ballistic because they never even bothered to send out a forensics team to take fingerprints, which were clearly on show all over the fucking glass door! So of course they “had no evidence”, because they didn’t fucking collect any!! In fact the CBS (Central Bureau Statistiek) even quotes in their report that “the risk of being caught is also low for house burglary (7 percent)”. Well no wonder. If you don’t bother to investigate, then you won’t ever solve the crime! Not only that, but the Dutch Police tabled last place in terms of their own citizens belief that they are effective and control crime in their local area…..LAST!!
I also think that in order to avoid doing any work at all, the Dutch will go out of their way to do things such as “tolerating” something that is listed on their penal code, and then turning a blind eye, as long as it’s not really harming anyone. Good examples of this are the Dutch attitudes towards marijuana and prostitution. However, the statistics would suggest that this doesn’t work…incidents of rape in the Netherlands were the 7th highest in Europe. The fact that 55% of them were solved was down to the fact that the victim was able to assist with the arrest as she could provide a description to the investigating officers that result in an arrest and conviction.
But the police, who are currently complaining about their salary and pension benefits, and their behaviour in general appears to be do incorrectly incentivised. There are regular press articles about how police are given quota’s on doling out fines for this and that, or risk getting axed. This then leads to the type of policing one experiences here, where serious crime is largely left unsolved.
Which brings me to the point I was making earlier about methods of detection and using the greater public as a means, rather than a hindrance, to solving crime. Because recently, after releasing CCTV footage of two suspects wanted in connection of the murder of a jewellery store owner, the police found themselves inundated with tip-offs, identities and the whereabouts of the two suspects.
In fact this was even touted as an “unusual step” to release security camera footage. A lawyer, Sanne Schuurman, was quoted as saying “It is unique in Dutch criminal law history that full surnames and photos are released so early in an investigation”. If you look at other civilised countries they wouldn’t think twice about publishing a photo and the full name of a suspect. They may of course position it more diplomatically, such as “wanted to assist with our line of inquiry” as used by the constabulary in the UK, rather than parading someone in front of the press, or the usual “perp walk” as so frequently demonstrated in the U.S.
But the point is this….it is high time that the Dutch police got off their arses and starting tackling and solving REAL crimes rather than their hitherto unsuccessful approach of issuing fines and upholding the rights of criminals rather than the victims. If they did that, then maybe the public opinion and support on their ongoing compensation feud might have had more supporters, rather than then laissez-faire attitude exhibited by most of my Dutch friends.