Complaint handling by the Dutch Caribbean Police Force on the right track – but with room for improvement

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Politie Caribisch Nederland

The Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN) has made good progress in its handling of complaints. But there is still room for improvement. That is the conclusion reached by the National Ombudsman after an investigation into how the KPCN deals with complaints from members of the public.

In his investigation, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen compared this with his view of professional complaint handling. He also looked at whether recommendations from a 2016 joint report with the Law Enforcement Council have been followed up.

Professionalisation

According to Reinier van Zutphen, “The KPCN is on the right track to professionalise its complaint handling. Complaints from members of the public are taken seriously. But I also see opportunities to improve the way they are dealt with.” To this end, the ombudsman makes ten recommendations to the KPCN:

  1. Finalise the complaints manual and make it public.
  2. Upgrade the online complaints form and ensure that it can be found on the website.
  3. Provide drop boxes for complaints on the Leeward Islands.
  4. Register complaints which are resolved informally.
  5. Conduct an annual complaints analysis.
  6. Notify the complainant when a disciplinary investigation is initiated as a result of their complaint.
  7. Forward copies of complaints to the island governor and the Public Prosecution Service.
  8. Be transparent, always involving both the complainant and the respondent in the investigation.
  9. Check with the complainant that the matter has been concluded to their satisfaction.
  10. Justify the outcome in a concluding letter.

The National Ombudsman has also indicated his willingness to enter into discussions with the KPCN’s chief constable about how the force follows up his recommendations.

Background

Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba have been special municipalities of the Netherlands since 2010. Known collectively as the BES islands, together they form the Caribbean Netherlands. Since then the National Ombudsman has handled public complaints about central government agencies on the islands. In order to gain a better picture of how those bodies deal with complaints, the ombudsman also conducts investigations on his own initiative. In doing so, his aim is to contribute towards good governance on the BES islands.