National priorities for the Police force
Report on the audit of budget chapter VI
Between 2003 and 2014 successive governments formulated more than 20 national priorities for the police. What were the results? And how was the House of Representatives informed about them?
In the period 2013-2014, two thirds of the targets set for the 23 national police priorities we audited were achieved. In many cases, however, the target had already been achieved at the start of the priority period. The information that the responsible ministers provided to the House of Representatives on the targets set and achieved was not always consistent. We base these conclusions on the following audit findings.
Priority targets often achieved (although the bar was sometimes very low)
We audited the 21 indicators used to set national priorities for the police and asked whether the targets had been met within the priority period. The indicators were concerned with such matters as ‘the number of suspects referred to the Public Prosecution Service’ and ‘the availability of police officers on the beat’. In 14 of the 21 cases, the targets had been achieved within the priority period. It should be noted though that the targets of eight of these indicators had already been achieved or exceeded in the very first year. The targets for seven of the 21 indicators were not met during the priority period. In three of these seven cases there had been some progress towards them, but not in the other four.
Information provided to House of Representatives not always consistent
The House of Representatives was informed about most of the national police priorities by the responsible Ministers of Justice throughout the entire priority period (as from 2012, by the Minister of Security and Justice). The information, however, was not always consistent. The units measured were not always the same and some targets were adjusted before the end of the period. Some targets were also set before the measurement unit was agreed upon or later proved to be impractical, without this information being provided explicitly to the House.
More attention paid to local support for national priorities
Strong management by national police priorities can lead to tension between local and national wishes. In practice, not all national priorities are important in every municipality. To help ensure that national priorities match the policing problems experienced regionally and locally, the Minister of Security and Justice, regional mayors and the Board of Procurators General should coordinate and agree the priorities before setting them. In this respect, the Security Agenda 2015-2018 is a step in the right direction.
We think the Minister of Security and Justice should inform the House of Representatives openly and unambiguously about the results achieved regarding the national police priorities. We therefore recommend that the Minister regularly and consistently provide information on the results achieved and/or the measures taken for all the national police priorities he sets. This will require the uniform and consistent registration of police data at local level.
Response of the Ministeri of Security and Justice
The Minister of Security and Justice wrote that the priorities set for the police had been formulated in close and productive cooperation with the relevant authorities and in many cases the required targets had not only been achieved but also exceeded. He referred to this as a success.
The Minister also noted that he agreed with our recommendations and would take them to heart. We think the Minister should explain in concrete terms how he will implement our recommendations and inform the House of Representatives accordingly.