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General Information

Admission to the OSCE: 25 June 1973

OSCE Chairmanship in 2003

Policing overview: The Dutch National Police is called the “Politie” and consists of 25 regional police forces plus the National Police Services Agency. It is assisted by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, a military entity which, during peacetime, performs the duties of a normal police service.

National Police

1. Functions and missions
2. Structure and organization
3. Staff data
4. Oversight

1. Functions and missions
The tasks of the Netherlands National Police are described in the Police Act. Briefly summarized, the Act states that the police must ensure a safe and liveable society, and assist those in need. That means, inter alia, that the police must be visibly present in the streets, tackle crimes, such as car thefts and burglaries, deal with youth and vice issues, and fight violent and serious crime. Whereas in the 1970s the police tended to focus largely on the investigation of criminal offences, they now also put considerable emphasis on crime prevention.

Apart from their daily work, the Dutch National Police have a number of specialized tasks that are either separate or carried out in support of basic police activities. Following is a list of these tasks that includes: 

  • investigations into such diverse crimes as trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, fraud, large-scale environmental crimes, and sexual offences; also information control, ranging from collecting and processing technical information to information on criminal organizations;
  • alien’s care, e.g. regulating the stay of non-Dutch nationals and exercising relevant supervision;
  • operational tasks supportive of basic police care and/or specialist tasks (e.g. Mounted Police, Canine Units, Public Safety and Security Units, Computer Crime Units, SWATs, Observation Units, Environmental Teams, Juvenile and Vice Squads).

2. Structure and organization
The Dutch police is composed of 25 regional services and the National Police Services Agency - see organization chart in the Attachments section.

  • Twenty-five police regional services are responsible for policing in their respective geographical regions. Each is headed by a regional police board, consisting of mayors and a chief public prosecutor. Geographically speaking, each region is divided into a number of districts, which have both general and specialist tasks. Each district is composed of a number of basic units or bureaus. Moreover, each service has a number of specialist departments (e.g. Technical CID, Juvenile and Vice Squad, Identification Service, Criminal Intelligence Service and Aliens’ Police).
  • The National Police Services Agency is headed by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (since January 2000). He is responsible, together with the Minister of Justice, for the overall quality of policing in the Netherlands. He also heads each of the regional police forces 'at arm's length' - meaning that he limits his interventions in principle to what is strictly necessary. The Agency carries out national and specialist police tasks. It collects, files, processes, manages, analyzes and distributes information, and carries out other support tasks. It guards the Royal Family and other important persons and procures police weaponry, uniforms and other equipment. Lastly, national crime investigation tasks have been incorporated into its overall mandate. An important and internationally known division of the Agency is the National Criminal Intelligence Division, which houses the national Interpol bureau.

3. Staff data
In late 2002 the total strength of the Dutch Police was 52,500: that is, 36,800 police officers, approximately 3,600 trainees and 14,750 support staff in administrative and technical positions. Women accounted for about 18% of police personnel.

4. Oversight
A network of controls has been laid down in Dutch legislation so as to guarantee the manageability of the police. It is in keeping with Dutch tradition that no single body should have sole authority over the police, but that authority should be divided between the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Minister of Justice on the one hand and the provincial and municipal authorities, such as the Queen's Commissioner, mayor and municipal councils, on the other. Below is how it works in practice:

  • Administration: The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for the central administration of the police in the Netherlands. One of the mayors (“burgomasters”) in a region (often the one with the largest municipality) is force administrator. Together with the chief public prosecutor, he has ultimate responsibility for administering the police service.
  • Authority: This competence is vested in the “burgomaster” for the maintenance of public order and care, who is accountable to the city council. When the police is deployed to investigate a punishable offence, they follow the instructions of the public prosecutor who is a member of the Public Prosecution Department. The Public Prosecution Department, which falls under the Ministry of Justice, is responsible for maintaining legal order where it concerns violations of the Criminal Code.


  Regional Organization of the Police [English] (14.81 Kb) Regional Organization of the Police [English] (Format: ) http://polis-cp.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=35&attach_id=59
Map of the 25 Police Regions
  Brochure on Policing [English] (2.44 Mb) Brochure on Policing [English] (Format: PDF) http://polis-cp.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=35&attach_id=64
Brochure on Policing in Netherlands
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Royal Netherlands Marechaussee

1. General information
2. Functions and missions
3. Structure and organization
4. Education / Training

1. General information
The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee is one of the four military bodies of the Netherlands — that is, a gendarmerie or military body serving in peace time as part of the regular National Police Service.

In order to perform the tasks laid down in the 1993 Police Act, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee is on an equal footing with the Police. If the former is to be able to carry out its police tasks properly, it must have the requisite investigative authority. The Code of Criminal Procedure accords this authority to Marechaussee officers and non-commissioned-officers.

2. Functions and missions
The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee’s wide range of tasks cover the following areas:

  • Security:  object security, ceremonial services, personal protection, guarding security transports, civil aviation security, police tasks at civil airports.
  • Police tasks for the Ministry of Defence
  • Civil peace and international tasks
  • Enforcement of aliens' legislation: border control, mobile monitoring of aliens, supporting the asylum procedure
  • Criminal investigations

3. Structure and organization
In the Netherlands, Marechaussee personnel work in six operational areas:

  • Training Command and Centre of Expertise
  • Specialist units such as the Central Criminal Investigation Service
  • Special Security Missions Brigade
  • 103rd Royal Marechaussee Squadron 
  • Dangerous Goods Storage and
  • Transport Inspection Section.

See organization chart in the Attachments section.

4. Education / Training 
If tasks are to be performed well, good training is essential. For this reason, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee has its own Training Command and Centre of Expertise, which is one of the oldest institutes for police training in the country.

Marechaussees and sergeants: The Training Command and Centre of Expertise provides training for security guards and criminal investigators. The former is offered in Eefde and takes six months. The Marechaussees are trained for positions related to the protection of the Royal House, civil aviation security or a particular function in the defence police task. Training for criminal investigators is given in Apeldoorn or Vught and takes one year. Sergeants are trained in police work, the mobile monitoring of aliens and border control.

Officer training is given at the Royal Military Academy in Breda. Training is partly military, partly academic, finishing with a function-specific element at the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee Training Centre in Apeldoorn.


  The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee [English] (62.50 Kb) The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee [English] (Format: MS Word) http://polis-cp.osce.org/countries/view?item_id=35&attach_id=139
Organization chart
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Police - Netherlands  Police - Netherlands https://www.politie.nl/
Official website of the Dutch Police

Netherlands Crime Stoppers  Netherlands Crime Stoppers http://www.meldmisdaadanoniem.nl/
Anonymous Call-Ins

Royal Netherlands Marechaussee  Royal Netherlands Marechaussee http://www.marechaussee.nl/
Official website of the Koninklijke Marechaussee

OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Netherlands  OSCE/ ODIHR Legislationline - Netherlands http://www.legislationline.org/topics/country/12/topic/12
Legislationline is a gratis internet-based legislative database published and maintained by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Last Updated: 4 September 2009

Also see: United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg