Police watchdog says that misuse of the police database is still rife

According to a new report by the police watchdog COC police officers continue to regularly misuse the police database to either seek information that they don’t require in order to carry out their work or to cover up offences that they have committed themselves. The police database contains information about individuals, vehicles, buildings and objects. 

COC’s Frank Scheurmans told VRT News that “In essence there are two issues at play here. First of all we are still seeing, because this is not new, that police officers are consulting the ANG police database for personal ends. For example, if they have relationship problems, to look things up as a favour to friends or simply out of curiosity, etc.

In addition to this, police officers that themselves have committed crimes delete the crime reports relating to these crimes from the database.

Normally police officers are screened when they apply for promotion or wish to change job within the police service. “Those responsible for recruitment can of course not see what isn’t on the database and this is of course unacceptable. A police office doesn’t have more rights than any other citizen. 

Checks carried out on cleaner

Among the numerous examples of abuses of access to the police database include one police officer that tied to delete a crime report after he had been caught at a lockdown party during the coronavirus pandemic. Another police officer used the database to carry out checks on a cleaner, the company she works for and another member of staff at the cleaning company.

The police officer was considered taking on the cleaner to clean his home. As he was unable to find any information about the cleaner in the police database, he accused the cleaning company of illegal practices and threatened to inform the Social Inspectorate.

Mr Scheurmans told VRT News that which there are no precise figures on the number of cases of police database misuse “but based on what we have seen we free that these are not isolated incidents. In once big city police force the removal of crime reports has been going on for years”.

COC hopes that its report will make police services and the authorities that are responsible for them aware that aware that there is an issue.

“We hope that a ministerial guideline will be issued or a letter or circular sent addressing the issue. Police forces need to remind their officers of the rules regarding the use of the database. 

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