Police officers used violence more often in their work last year than in 2021. There were 20,667 incidents, according to the annual report. In addition, a total of 33,584 times violence was used by a policeman or woman. That number is higher because violence can be used several times and by several police officers in one incident.
The number of incidents involving violence increased by 18 percent last year. The number of times violence was used, the so-called acts of violence, increased by 12 percent. Last year, 11 people died in incidents in which police officers used violence. Whether this was due to the use of violence or (also) due to other causes is not yet clear.
According to the police, a possible explanation for the increase is the further polarization of society. “Citizens and government have become increasingly opposed to each other. The resulting increased number of protests is leading to more violence,” the report says.
The increase in the number of incidents involving people with confused behavior may also be a possible cause, the police say. That increased by 7 percent.
Furthermore, within the police force, more attention has been paid to police violence and the importance of proper registration for a number of years. Discipline has been tightened on that point, says Amsterdam chief of police Paauw in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. For example, the figures have been registered in a uniform manner for the past four years, making them easy to compare.
Electric shock weapon
In more than half of the cases, an officer used physical force last year, without further means of violence. After that, the most seized was the firearm and the extendable baton.
86 times shots were fired at someone, 1499 times the weapon was only aimed at someone. As in 2021, most violent incidents occurred in the unit The Hague (3174), followed by East Netherlands, Amsterdam, East Brabant and Central Netherlands.
As of early 2022, police officers in base squads will have stun guns as standard. As a result, its use has increased significantly compared to previous years. The electroshock weapon was used more than 4,400 times last year, but in three quarters of the cases it was only threatened. “That often had a deterrent effect, which reduced the threat or danger,” says Paauw. “This may also reduce the need for the officer to use a firearm or baton.”
It is the fourth year in a row that the number of violent situations has risen. In 2021 there were still more than 17,000. The number of times violence was used has also increased in those years.
‘Deal more carefully with violence’
Frank Paauw, Amsterdam police chief and responsible for the report, says that society is changing. He believes that the police should therefore be more careful with the use of force.
“It is difficult to say whether the increase in violence by agents is related to the corona period,” he says. “We can interpret this better after the figures for 2023. During the corona period, we have of course seen that there were more demonstrations, there was no nightlife, but more is needed to explain the increase.”
The police also provided figures on the extent to which police violence was used rightly or wrongly. Of the more than 2,800 cases assessed in 2022, 87 percent judged that the force used was in accordance with the guidelines and therefore professional. In 266 cases (13 percent) the violence was against the guidelines and therefore non-professional. That is an increase compared to 2021, when 10 percent were assessed as non-professional.
Not all assessments relate to incidents from 2022. Because the investigation takes time, some of it concerns violence from 2021. A number of incidents from 2022 have not yet been assessed.
- Ten thousand suspects of violence against police officers, boas and ambulance personnel
- Police used more violence last year, related to corona tensions