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How other European countries monitor and protect people under threat

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How other European countries monitor and protect people under threat

Threats to politicians and officials, liquidations, and other forms escalating violence are putting severe pressure on the Surveillance and Protection system. Other European countries are also experiencing changes in their threat levels. To learn from them, the Netherlands Police Academy looked at how Germany, the UK, Denmark, and Italy protect people under threat in a study commissioned by the Surveillance and Protection Knowledge Centre.

The need to provide security for people, objects or services under threat has not only increased in the Netherlands. Commissioned by the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV), the Netherlands Police, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, and the Public Prosecution Service, the Netherlands Police Academy visited four European countries to gain experience on monitoring and protecting people under threat. Researchers interviewed experts from organisations with a central role in surveillance and protection in their countries.  

Differences and similarities 

The comparative study shows that many countries face similar problems and constraints but also that there are various approaches and possible solutions to certain issues. In all countries, attacks and incidents have shaped the system in which the work is done. In most countries, there is a clear legal framework underlying the measures taken.  Each country is information-driven in both scaling up and scaling down measures. Most countries, especially the UK, have clear protocols for this. There, measures are only continued if a demonstrable 'present and ongoing threat' exists.   

In Italy and Denmark in particular, the measures are part of a bigger picture. Italy focuses on fighting organised crime, Denmark on protecting the democratic rule of law.   

A relatively new system 

The researchers note that the Dutch system is young by comparison. At the same time, the Netherlands appears to be paying more attention to the infrastructure, equipment, and training of the implementing organisations. Also, in the countries studied, there is less focus on psychological support for people under threat than is the case in the Netherlands. In those countries, the duty of care is primarily focused on a person's physical safety. However, other countries provide some aftercare when surveillance and protection are ended. Of particular note is the Dutch government's openness to public-private partnerships on surveillance and security. That could be due to pressure on the system and capacity issues. In other countries, the latter problem is less of an issue.     

The researchers, including Netherlands Police Academy Sector Head of Knowledge & Research Edwin Bakker, do not make any recommendations. But they do reflect with this study on how we can look at the Dutch system in a different way: "Every country is different, and that means you can't just adopt practices wholesale. But we can learn from them."  

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