Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform: Year 3 informants report

Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform: Year 3 national key informants report and summary of evidence.

Annex 3: International Evidence

Key findings from the evaluation of the Dutch police reform [32]

In 2013 the Netherlands established a national police force. The main reasons for this reform were to stop the fragmentation of the police forces, to promote co-ordination, and to improve policing of organised crime and terrorism. Unlike Scotland, budgetary constraints were of very little relevance in the decision to create a new police system.

In November 2017 the formal evaluation of the Dutch Police Act 2012 was published. This evaluation was based on the legal obligation of the Minister set out in the Police Act 2012, to send an evaluation of the Act to the Dutch Parliament before 1st October 2017. Because of the time taken to create a new coalition government in the Netherlands after the elections of March 2017, the publication of this evaluation was delayed.

The responsibility for the evaluation was in the hands of the ‘independent’ Committee on the Evaluation of the Police Act 2012, set up by the Minister in October 2013. After some other publications in the years 2014 and 2016, the final report (including five annexes) was formally presented to the Minister (and from that moment it was also made public). The Minister has not given any indication of what he is intending to do with the recommendation and conclusions of the Committee, and has postponed his response.

The Members of the Committee did not do empirical research themselves, but contracted universities and consultancy organizations to conduct four different studies. The four studies dealt with different issues:

  • the governance of the police
  • legal aspects of the Police Act (especially the relation between the Chief Constable and the Minister and the distribution of formal powers between these two positions);
  • the performance of the police (in a very broad sense);
  • and the supportive (non-operational) facilities of the National Police (such as the management of buildings, cars, uniforms, etc.).

Later on, it was decided also to have a fifth study, which gave an overview of the developments of the Dutch police system since the late 1980s and made an overview of the findings and conclusions of all studies available with regard to the Dutch police system. The five studies were also published on 16 November 2017 as Annexes of the Final Report of the Committee.

Based on these studies, the conclusions of the Committee were:

  • The transition to the National Police was much more complex and took much more time than was originally envisioned;.
  • Because the implementation of the Police Act 2012 is only halfway (and the plans have been changed since 2013), it is very difficult to have an evaluation now. For that reason the Committee says that about five years from now there should be a new evaluation of the Police Act as they expect that only then a more definite evaluation will be possible;
  • There has been ‘a huge underestimation of the complexity of the process of transition’. There has been too much emphasis (especially during the first three years since the start of the National Police) on top-down management, creating all kinds of resistance and problems. According to the Committee it has been a wise decision to change this style of change management in 2016 (more bottom-up, more time, less pressure on the police).
  • The Police Act creates tensions and problems in the relation between the Minister and the Chief Constable. The Minister should be more at a distance and the Chief Constable should have more managerial room.
  • The creation of the National Police has had a negative impact on local policing, with the local mayors and municipal councils of the smaller municipalities have lost much of their influence on local policing.
  • The creation of national supportive facilities proved to be much more difficult than originally it was assumed (especially the creation of National IT-systems).

The Committee also made a list of twelve recommendations, which include:

  • There should be a better distribution of powers and responsibilities in the governance of the police (both nationally and at the regional and local levels).
  • The Chief Constable should have more room for making policy and managerial decisions and should be less dependent on the Minister.
  • The territorial structure of the police should be changed (many of the areas are too large and/or artificial).
  • The national policy and management of the police should leave more room for flexibility and for local initiatives/priorities.
  • It is recommended that at the local level a new form of municipal policing be created because the National Police Force neglects the importance of local availability and police presence;
  • In 2022 there should be a new evaluation of the Police Act 2012 and the Committee presumes that then it will possible to say more about the implementation of the Police Act and the impact on police performance;
  • There are still many challenges, elements that have not been realized until now, but the Committee believes strongly that further progress in this process can be realized within the policy frames of the Police Act 2012. In other words, there is no need for a new Police Act and there should be no return to the regional structure that there used to exist before 2013.

Key findings from the evaluation of the Norwegian police reform [33]

Norwegian police reform is a strategic plan for improving and developing the police service towards 2020. The purpose is to provide an improved and more modern police service, and to provide safety to the public.

Difi the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment are conducting a 4 year evaluation of police reform. In 2017 the key themes explored include management, leadership, culture and attitudes in the police. The findings from the evaluation so far include:

  • The term ‘community policing reform’ is problematic – many functions are in fact centralised
  • The goals and intended effects are ambitious and at times contradictory
  • Employees and the municipalities have little confidence in reform
  • The municipalities are concerned that local knowledge must not be eroded
  • The employees want change, but have little confidence that the goals of reform will be reached
  • Tight deadlines challenge collaboration with the unions
  • Planning and implementation have taken a lot of time and capacity
  • Citizen’s confidence in the police has increased from 2016 to 2017
  • Reform activities are largely on schedule

In regards to culture, attitudes and leadership

  • The police culture is complex
  • Some common features:
  • Action-orientated, proud of their work, taking care of each other
  • Self-righteous, lack of interest in cooperating and learning from others, oral tradition
  • It takes time to change organisational culture
  • Management and leadership issues must be addressed on all levels

Difi’s recommendations

  • There is a need for clarifying and communicating realistic goals for reform
  • The Police Directorate must balance the need for unified management and standardisation with the police districts need for local autonomy and local adoption
  • The police’s ICT systems should be prioritised
  • There is a need for a more long-term approach in governing reform
  • Leadership measures have been initiated, but they need to reach further out - also to the first-line managers
  • The chiefs of police must be clear about what constitutes the desired organisational culture and management style in their police district
  • The police must take into great consideration the need for new competences in order to meet the changes in crime and technology.


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