The Progress Committee Plans of Approach National Tasks St. Maarten expressed great concern in its most recent progress report, dated February 2016, and released this week, about the shortage of personnel at the KPSM and the Prison.
The situation was described as “very worrisome” and even “highly precarious” at the Prison. Existing vacancies have not been filled, and increasing the personnel capacity has been close to impossible due to the budgetary restrictions of the Country St. Maarten. (See related article)
The Committee was positive about the developments at the National Detective unit, an organisation which was referred to as “stabile” and being on the “level where it is supposed to be.” The Committee lauded the head of the National Detective unit for leading the organisation in a solid manner on all aspects, but noted that the head should be given a broader mandate for operational tasks, which would enhance efficiency and result in more discretion.
“The road to building up the National Detective unit was long, but steady; from barely anything at the end of 2010 to a department with good housing and a high-quality personnel force at the end of 2015,” stated the Committee, which advised the Dutch and St. Maarten governments to declare the Plan of Approach for the National Detective unit as having been completed.
The execution of the remaining Plans of Approach for the Police and Prison requires high priority, despite the country’s financial limitations. The Committee informed Prime Minister William Marlin and Finance Minister Richard Gibson during a work visit to St. Maarten early February this year, that the execution of these plans was not merely a matter of finances, “but also of ambition, management and quality.”
Having concluded that in the fourth quarter of 2015, “little or no progress” was made concerning the Plans of Approach for the Police and Prison, the Committee urged the St. Maarten Government to take structural measures to continue the development and execution of the plans.
The Plans of Approach for the KPSM and Police will not have been completed by October this year. “The progress on important parts has stagnated for a long while. Continuing in the current manner will not result in a completion of the Plans of Approach.”
The exercise of completing the Plans of Approach was termed as “not very meaningful.” As such, the Committee has advised not to prolong the General Measure of the Kingdom Government that secures the Plans of Approach.
“Improvement of the situation can only be found if more financial means become available, and external assistance becomes accessible in a constructive cooperation with the Netherlands to achieve the desired level of security and law enforcement in the Kingdom,” it was stated in the report.
Further development of the justice departments will have to be achieved through the cooperation with other justice entities in the Kingdom. “The solution for problems should be sought more in a joint approach.”
The developing of an internal system for the review and safeguarding of quality in 2016 and 2017, which the Committee wants to help implement, should be included in the efforts of a closer cooperation of the justice entities within the Kingdom.
A first initiative for a closer cooperation was agreed upon during a meeting of the four justice ministers of the Kingdom in January this year at the so-called Judicial Four Party Consultation for the Kingdom. At this meeting, Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur committed to make training capacity available for police.
The new KPSM Chief Carl John informed the Committee during its working visit that he was a proponent of intensified cooperation with other investigation services within the Kingdom.
The Committee welcomed the improved relations between KPSM and other police forces within the Kingdom, the Dutch National Police and the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. KPSM Chief John also assured that he was committed to execute the Plan of Approach wherever possible.
The Committee pointed out that it still lacked the representation of a St. Maarten representative on the Committee itself. The vacancy was not filled after St. Maarten member Richard Gibson resigned from the Committee late 2014.
The sole candidate pulled back due to the informal character of the appointment. “The Committee is very disappointed about the apparent unclear decision in the Kingdom Council of Ministers, which was the reason for the candidate’s withdrawal. Prime Minister Marlin has been urged to propose a new candidate.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk earlier this week submitted the progress reports of the Progress Committee Plans of Approach St. Maarten, numbers 19, 20 and 21, to the Dutch Parliament, along with the executing reports of the St. Maarten Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo.
In the accompanying letter, Plasterk informed the Dutch Parliament that the Plan of Approach for the National Detectives was successfully completed “due to the efforts” of the involved government departments. Remaining are the Plans of Approach for the KPSM and the Prison, he stated.
In his letter, Plasterk also addressed the request of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to draft a proposal to improve the functioning of the KPSM and the Prison. He stated that a multi-disciplinary conference took place in St. Maarten on April 11 and 12, where the possibilities of improving the two justice entities was discussed. Plasterk promised to further inform the Parliament about this conference within short.