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"We offer legal support to police colleagues, but in plain Dutch"

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"We offer legal support to police colleagues, but in plain Dutch"

The Juridisch Blauw section of the Netherlands Police Academy offers legal support to police colleagues. Demand for legal advice and verifying accuracy is rising. It is vital that what police colleagues do or write down is legally correct. Errors reduce the chances of conviction. But the law is constantly changing. So how is legal knowledge kept up-to-date? Criminal lawyer Renate Warries: "In fact, there should be a (criminal) lawyer on every base team that works together in an alliance." 

Juridisch Blauw has been providing legal support to police colleagues since 2017. "We are there to keep colleagues informed of important legal developments. We do this, for example, by scanning court decisions for police-relevant themes. We make clear and concise summaries of them. We send that summary to some 11,500 colleagues every month," says criminal lawyer and coordinator of Juridisch Blauw Renate Warries. 

Juridisch Blauw also carries out legal analyses that translate legal articles into plain Dutch and explain the meaning of the article. Warries: "Consider the section of law on theft. The section contains various constituents. The legislative history and court decisions explain and flesh out the section of law. For example, the question of whether a PIN is an 'asset' and can therefore be stolen. This information can generally be found in the Tekst&Commentaar range of books, but that is a source written for lawyers. We make an analysis of it that is useful and understandable to police officers." 

Customised advice 

Police Officers can ask Juridisch Blauw for legal advice. "That sometimes takes some working out. For example, colleagues ask whether a minor can waive legal aid. Or consider the case where two people have lived together for 17 years but have now broken up. The police are called because someone refuses to leave the house: what can and should the police do?" Warries says. To answer these questions, we need a clear picture of what policing is all about. That makes it helpful that criminal lawyer Victor Hartog has been a police officer himself. So he knows the practice. 

Legally correct? 

There is rising demand for legal advice within the Netherlands Police. Various projects also increasingly go to Juridisch Blauw for support or input. One significant change is the modernisation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This affects teaching and practice. Warries: "Do you want to know how to update education on the new Criminal Procedure Code? And how to retrain all colleagues? If so, you first need to know what will be in the new code. So you basically have to make an understandable legal analysis of it all." The Official Instructions have also been amended. For that reason, we need to update the contents of the violence control test this year. Juridisch Blauw is fulfilling this task in cooperation with the Actualisation Group. 

Legal platform 

Juridisch Blauw aims to set up a legal platform from within the Netherlands Police Academy. "In fact, there should be a criminal lawyer in every base team, supporting police colleagues, just like Juridisch Blauw does. Quite a few law graduates work for the police. But they work full-time in certain operational positions, such as a sergeant or operations expert. It would be great if there were more legal positions within the police forces working on criminal justice support and professionalisation. And if they were connected through a platform to share and create legal knowledge. For example, this would give us one legally validated basis for education, workshops, and tests. That way, we can make legal knowledge understandable within the police organisation, but above all have it  be validated and unambiguous," Warries concludes. 

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