Police reform in the Netherlands.
A dance between steering and local performing
The Dutch police system has been under pressure during the last decades. Critical debates focused on police’ dealing with the growing (perceived) insecurity, the administrative problems of size and efficiency, the core tasks of the police, the distribution of power over the police and it’s accountability. These issues have become even more relevant since integrated local safety policies have been developed to tackle public safety problems by the police together with more and different partners, within government or even outside of it. At the same time the national government wants to direct its local and regional partners more, while holding on to local performance. The aim of this article is to show the developments of the last decades that have influenced the (re)organization of the police and the way they are steered and democratically controlled. Police forces are now closely cooperating with other actors in rather complex safety networks, steered by local government and concentrating on their core tasks, leaving more tasks to other actors than in the past. Finding sensible balances between centrally organized tasks and variants of steering (direction), and more local organization and steering (discretion) will be crucial for the future of the public police.