SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police were involved in over 14,500 incidents last year during which they used some form of violence, according to new police figures, published on Monday.
The total number of incidents is in line with previous years, police research Jaap Timmer said. However, this is the first year each different intervention option – physical force, truncheons, pepper spray and guns – has been registered separately.
This, police spokesman Frank Paauw said, means the police have a better idea of what weapons are being used and when. ‘We can learn from what has happened and can make sure we remain sharp,’ he said.
‘Having the right to use force is a great responsibility.’ In 60% of the incidents, the police used physical force only and in 8% they drew their weapons. Pepper spray was used in 5% of cases and truncheons in 10%.
In 88% of the incidents, the officers involved were found to have acted appropriately. Most of the other cases were put down to a lack of experience or training but in several cases officers did face disciplinary proceedings, the report said, without going into details.
Police in The Hague were most likely to have been involved in violent incidents, followed by Amsterdam and Oost-Nederland. Earlier figures show the police actually fired their guns on 16 occasions last year, killing four people and injuring 12.
The discussion about the police use of violence in the Netherlands is particularly pertinent given the campaign by street wardens to be equipped with pepper spray and truncheons.