WRR explores need for reflection on role of the police

The role of the police is to ensure law and order, protect security, and provide support and assistance in an emergency. These different ways in which policing and the police function can be shaped reflect the society in which the police is expected to carry out its work. In 2018, MP Monica den Boer tabled a motion calling on the government to formulate a vision of the future of policing in the Netherlands. In response, the Minister of Justice and Security has asked the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) to explore whether there is a need to reflect on the police function against the light of two trends within society. The first is the ever-increasing digitization of society: more and more aspects of our lives are now being played out online and this is impacting on our safety and security. The second trend is the increasing involvement of private parties in activities that relate to law and order.

Decoratieve afbeelding van een politieagent in uniform in Den Haag
Image: ©ANP Foto / ANP Foto

This autumn, the WRR organized a meeting with experts from various sectors. The topic for discussion was the role of the police and the need to develop a new perspective on what this role can and should entail. For example, are the police sufficiently well-equipped to carry out their duties in a digital society? Is it desirable for security in defence of the public good to be subject to market forces, and if so under what conditions?

In support of this exploratory study, the WRR will also examine the approaches taken by a number of other European countries in this area. Is there knowledge available internationally that can help us think critically about how policing is organized in the Netherlands? And how can this knowledge help the Netherlands to rethink future policing?