THE HAGUE–A decision regarding the construction of a detention facility in St. Eustatius is pending. The new building with police cells will not be completed until at least late 2020.
Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus stated this in reaction to the Law Enforcement Council’s (“Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving’s”) report titled “The State of Law Enforcement of the Caribbean Netherlands 2017.”
Grapperhaus sent his reaction to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday, in anticipation of a general debate this Thursday with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Justice and Security about the justice system in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
The Law Enforcement Council in its report of April 2018 had recommended realising detention capacity in St. Eustatius. The Council concluded that earlier plans to build police cells had been delayed by the Executive Council. In the meantime, it has been decided to construct the detention facility behind the existing police station.
Grapperhaus acknowledged that the Council’s recommendation to realise detention capacity in St. Eustatius had not been executed as yet. “The planned construction behind the police station is in the phase of a necessary change of the development plan,” he stated.
The projected change of the development plan was published late January 2018 and the objection period has lapsed in the meantime. So far, the Statia Government has not made a formal decision to change the development plan.
Grapperhaus said he was in touch with the island government to “promote speedy decision-making.” A building permit still has to be issued as well, which can only take place after the development plan is amended. Realising the new detention facility will take at least until late 2020.
Grapperhaus shared the Council’s view that great strides had been made in the general functioning of the law enforcement system in the Caribbean Netherlands, especially where it concerned the securing of the judicial services in society. “Much work has been and is being done to give practical follow-up to the needs of society in the Caribbean Netherlands,” Grapperhaus stated.
He acknowledged the fact that there was criticism about the existing gap between the policy in The Hague and the execution of law enforcement on the islands. He said his ministry was proactively seeking more cooperation with the islands to bridge this gap. The public entities are offered support in their tasks to maintain law and order.
It is a fact that the centre of gravity was in Bonaire, as this is where the headquarters of the law enforcement services are located. oweverHoHowever, specific investments are made in the Justice and Security services in St. Eustatius and Saba based on local needs, stated Grapperhaus.
The Law Enforcement Council had expressed concerns about the implementation of the formation of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force KPCN, both in quality and in quantity. A lot has been invested in the quality and quantity of the KPCN personnel and material since 2010, and the budget has almost doubled.
Additional police officers are being trained, which will bring the Police Force up to strength in the coming years, stated Grapperhaus, who also announced that talks were taking place between the Police Forces in the region and the Dutch National Police regarding the deployment of specialist detective capacity.
The Ministry of Justice and Security is working with the island governments to establish a better screening instrument in the process of issuing permits. Also, the youth criminal law will be implemented in 2019, in combination with measures for the prevention of youth crime.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77799-construction-of-statia-police-cells-pending