According to Northern Netherlands Deputy police chief Joop de Schepper, incidents of systematic racism and discrimination remain frequent in the Northern police forces. These incidents affect both the public and members of the police force, who reportedly face racism and discrimination on a daily basis.
“It’s not just once, it’s day in and day out. That is also the case here, I am convinced of that. Why should it be any different here? We have also had app groups in which there was talk of discriminatory texts,” said de Schepper in conversation with the Dagblad van het Noorden.
He decided to speak up about the problem following the release of the documentary Blauwe Familie (Blue Family), which showcased the structural discrimination and racism faced by ethnically diverse police officers in the Randstad.
With even less diversity in the force in the Northern Netherlands, the situation is just as bad if not worse, continued de Schepper.
Earlier this year an investigation was conducted into a police WhatsApp group from 2018. Discriminatory and racist conversations were frequent within the group, as was the distribution of pornographic material. One officer has been removed from the force and six others disciplined following the investigation.
The problem, however, is far from solved, said de Schepper to Dagblad van het Noorden. He expects more incidents of racism and discrimination from within the force and suspects that systemic change is needed to truly face the issue.
“It’s about standardizing, punishing, and clarifying how your behavior affects someone else. We will have our hands full with that,” says de Schepper. He fears that the road ahead is a long one.
The leadership of the Northern police forces, following the documentary and de Schepper’s comments, have released a statement promising change. The letter states that “Nobody is looking away anymore”, and that the police force will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.
Exactly what these changes are, and how they will manifest, remains to be seen.