Final report on parliamentary review of criminal law system published

The Minister of Justice and Security must strengthen cooperation among the various organisations responsible for implementing criminal law in the Netherlands. This is the main conclusion in a report published today on a parliamentary review of the criminal law system. Parliamentary reviews are a new instrument for the House of Representatives to increase its understanding of a particular issue quickly and in depth. The Netherlands Court of Audit was closely involved in this first review.

The review was carried out by MPs Ulysse Ellian (VVD) and Songül Mutluer (PvdA) on behalf of the other members of the House’s Justice and Security Committee. They conclude that clear goals are often not set for cooperation among the organisations in the criminal law system, such as the police, the Public Prosecutor and the judiciary. Where goals are set, there are no consequences if they are not met. Poor exchange of information among all the institutions means that they, and the minister, often do not receive the right information at the right time. The review also levels criticism at how the criminal law system is funded. An organisation’s funding is determined by the minister’s budget, not by its projected expenditure for the year.

Netherlands Court of Audit investigating criminal law system for 15 years

In the past 15 years, the Court of Audit has published 38 reports on the performance of the criminal law system and the organisations involved. In a closed technical briefing for the reviewers on 1 June, a team of auditors headed by the Court’s Extraordinary Board member Hanny Kemna summarised the common threads of the audits. The core problems regarding cooperation, effectiveness, information exchange and funding have been at play for many years and will not be resolved without stronger management by the minister.

Chapter 7 of the final report is dedicated to the findings presented in the Court of Audit’s reports.

Reviewers’ recommendations to the ministers

The reviewers’ recommendations to the ministers are consistent with the Court of Audit’s earlier audit recommendations. For instance, the ministers should improve operational management of the police, Public Prosecutor and judiciary, funding should be more stable and new policy should take more account of the consequences for the criminal law system as a whole. The House has asked the Minister of Justice and Security and the Minister for Legal Protection to present the government’s response to the final report before parliament debates the ministry’s budget.