2021/003 Complaint handling by the Dutch Caribbean Police Force on the right track – but with room for improvement


The main tasks of the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN) 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 force should view handling complaints as a task requiring specialist 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 National Ombudsman has investigated the KPCN’s handling of complaints, looking particularly at its observance of the five steps in our view of professional complaint handling.

We have identified a number of possible improvements. For example, the current complaints manual dates from 2011 but has still not been adopted officially. On Bonaire it is already being used in the handling of complaints, but not on Saba and St Eustatius (the Dutch Leeward Islands). As a result, complaints made on the latter islands are treated differently. Other potential improvements can be found in the registration of informal complaints and in the compilation of an annual complaints analysis, so that the KPCN can learn better from complaints.

The National Ombudsman makes the following 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.