Caribbean Netherlands Police Force improves its handling of complaints

The Carib­bean Netherlands Police Force KPCN has partially ex­ecuted the recommendations of the National Ombudsman with regard to the handling of complaints by citizens.

KPCN has executed five of the 10 recommendations of the report that National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen published in Febru­ary 2021, titled “Handling of Complaints by the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force on the right track, but there is room for improvement”. KPCN reassessed its man­ual for handling complaints, based on which adaptations were made so complaints in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are handled in a uni­form manner. As soon as the Ministry of Justice and Secu­rity in The Hague gives the green light, the manual will be placed on the KPCN web-site, as will the complaints form.

To keep the threshold for filing complaints as low as possible, drop boxes were put up in St. Eustatius and Saba where residents can leave their complaints in writing. The complaints co­ordinator is brought in at an earlier stage when people file a complaint at the front desk, which results in informal oral complaints being handled as well.

The local chief of police reg­ularly informs the island gov­ernor about the complaints that are being handled. Also, KPCN drafts an annual com­plaints analysis to learn more about the complaints that have been filed.

The follow-up of the other five recommendations re­mains a source of attention for the National Ombuds­man, it was stated in a press release. The National Om­budsman said he would keep in touch with KPCN through telephone conversations and visits to the islands.

In his investigation of Feb­ruary 2021, Van Zutphen reviewed whether KPCN’s handling of complaints fit in the Ombudsman’s vision of professional complaints-han­dling. He already indicated at that time that KPCN was on the right track to profes­sionalise the handling of complaints from the public, but that there were possibili­ties to further improve this.

According to the National Ombudsman, having a solid system of handling com­plaints is very important, considering the main tasks of police are to ensure that everyone abides by the law and to investigate criminal offences.

Because police officers have a lot of personal contact with members of the public, com­plaints are received regularly about the way they do their work. To deal with these in a professional manner, the Po­lice Force needs to consider the handling of complaints as a task requiring specialised knowledge and skills. It is also important that everyone in the organisation has an open attitude towards com­plaints and learns from them going forward.

The Daily Herald.

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