The Daily Herald writes that Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten committed to continue investing in the Police Force Caribbean Netherlands during a meeting with the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday. Defending the increase in the budget of the Police Force for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba KPCN over the past few years, Opstelten said that investments have been and are still needed to upgrade and strengthen the force.
The KPCN budget was increased by some 4.8 million euros to 12.7 million euros in 2013 since the islands became Dutch public entities per October 10, 2010. “The high cost is inherent to the small scale of the islands,” said Opstelten in response to Member of the Second Chamber Foort van Oosten of the liberal democratic VVD party, of which Opstelten is also a member. He said the basic amount that was spent on the police force of the three islands at the time of the Netherlands Antilles was insufficient. The expenses have gone up due to investments in the dispatching of personnel from the Netherlands to the three islands, which was much needed due to understaffing, and the upgrading of equipment and housing. “We will continue to invest to further build the force,” the minister said. According to Opstelten, the KPCN is a force that is in the process of being built, which has been confronted with a heritage of the past and now has to make a jump to meet the requirements that are demanded of a modern police organisation in the Netherlands. To keep the cost somewhat in check, local police personnel were being recruited and trained so they could replace their more expensive Dutch colleagues. Hiring local police personnel is also better for the social embedding of the police force in the local community.
Member of Parliament Van Oosten had expressed his concern and surprise about the increase of the budget of the police force during a general debate of the Permanent Committee for Security and Justice with Opstelten about police affairs. On the long list of items on the agenda was the April 2013 report of the Council for Law Enforcement (Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving) on the work process of the detective department on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, and the minister’s reply to this report of September 2013. Van Oosten wanted to know why a police force in the Caribbean Netherlands, with a total of some 23,000 residents, cost 12.7 million euros per year, which is an average of 600 euros per inhabitant. He asked if this amount was correct, how this money was spent and if there were additional expenses.
Opstelten responded that one could not compare the Dutch Police Force to the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force, also because the latter police force has three independently operating units located 900km apart, which adds to the cost. In a letter that the minister sent to the Second Chamber in September last year, he acknowledged the findings of the Council for Law Enforcement that there were significant shortcomings at the KPCN where it came to the quality of the detection process and control of the detective unit. The poor quality of control has a direct influence on the way the detective unit functions, the culture in the department and quality of the executed work and the products thereof, for example, the processes verbal.
The council was critical of the fact that no detective was stationed on St. Eustatius and Saba at the time of the report’s research. The workload on these islands is too low to station full-time detectives there. The council lauded the cooperation with the St. Maarten Police Force. Minister Opstelten said St. Maarten had committed to assist St. Eustatius and Saba, and make a detective available if needed. Assistance of the Kingdom Detective Team RST is a possibility and the cooperation with the Royal Dutch Marechaussee is doing well.
Minister Opstelten stated in a letter to the Second Chamber on January 16, 2014, that one full-time detective had been stationed in the Windward Islands. The detective capacity for the Windward Islands will be part of the evaluation of the organisational plan of the KPCN in the first half of this year to see how the detection function can be better guaranteed on St. Eustatius and Saba.