For the first time, the police have collected data on a large scale about when and against whom they use violence. According to Follow the Money, this shows that especially young men of color, drunk nightlife audiences and confused people are confronted with violence by the police.
The then Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, concluded from this analysis that the police used violence ‘indiscriminately’. Civil rights organization Control Alt Delete requested this analysis and reports about police dogs and tasers through the Government Information Act and shared the hundreds of documents with Follow the Money. Internal documents on which the minister relied.
The data comes from an analysis of internal police data from 2021 that was not publicly available until now. Never before have the police, judiciary and CBS made such an extensive report on police violence. The great social unrest due to, among other things, the death of Mitch Henriquez (due to excessive police violence) and the excessive violence during arrests with police dogs were the reason for this analysis.
The analysis shows that, for example, one in eleven insults leads to police violence, while an insult is reason for a fine, but not for violence.
Drink and drugs
The police used force in 0.51 percent of all incidents. At weekends it is 2 percent at night. The violence is concentrated around 96 hotspots in the Dutch hospitality industry, in which alcohol is a particularly important factor. About 80 percent of all nightlife violence involves alcohol. Stimulants such as speed and cocaine can also cause aggression, but play a much smaller role.
5.9 percent of all Dutch people against whom the police used violence were confused. People with mental health treatment are on average five times more involved in police violence. Young people with youth care or protection are also considerably overrepresented in the figures. Due to the cutbacks in mental health care, ‘there are more and more and often more violent people with confused behavior in the public space,’ the analysis states.
Of the Dutch people against whom the police use violence, 36 percent have a ‘non-Western migration background’. Earlier research already showed that almost half of all people who die due to police violence have a non-Western background: 23 of the 50 fatalities between 2016 and 2020. Police & Science concluded in 2021 that young people with a Moroccan or Antillean background will have a two or three times as likely to be suspected.
In a response, the police continues to support the analysis that young men in an urban environment are simply an ‘increased risk group’ and ethnicity therefore plays no role. Even now that the Court has banned ethnic profiling by the Marechaussee last week, the police do not feel addressed: ‘Race or ethnicity is never a selection criterion for inspections.’
In the period under investigation, it is striking how often the police in Rotterdam used the police dog as a weapon: no less than 145 times, compared to 64 times in Amsterdam and 59 times in The Hague. Due to all the social commotion and negative publicity about bite incidents, police dog teams are now looking for more social dogs. From 1 April 2022, the guideline ‘on a leash, unless’ applies to police dogs to prevent unwanted biting incidents.
The study The electroshock weapon in basic police care shows that officers mainly use the taser ‘against resistance’. This happened in 79.8 percent of the cases. In less than 20 percent of the cases, the police pull out their stun gun against a weapon or to avert danger. According to Control Alt Delete, confused people are hit by the taser at 46 percent above average.
In all cases of police violence, violence against the police itself was registered in only 19 percent of the cases. In the period under investigation, five people died due to police violence, the analysis states without further explanation. Control Alt Delete has been monitoring the number of people who die under the responsibility of law enforcement since 2016. This shows that 26 people died during this period.
Sociologist Jaap Timmer, who has studied police violence for 30 years, says the Dutch police like to describe themselves as ‘friendly de-escalation specialists’, who use little violence compared to other countries. But because the last investigation into deaths by police bullets dates from 2005, we don’t really know that at all, according to Timmer.
Killed by police bullets
Timmer: ‘Compared to neighboring countries, the Dutch police killed relatively many people with police bullets between 1995 and 2005. In the Netherlands, an average of about 1 death in 5 million inhabitants per year is caused by police bullets.’ In Germany, that is 1 death from police bullets for every 14 million inhabitants. In Denmark 1 in 7 million and in Sweden 1 in 8 million inhabitants respectively.
Third detainee died after becoming unwell within a month
Police bullets will lead to five fatalities in 2020