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Dutch chief of Police Erik Akerboom. Source: Dutch National Police

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the Dutch National Police tried to stop them from writing about the errors made during an investigation on immigrant crime statistics, bu offering them a deal. Using the WOB (freedom of information act) sources requested an investigation of the statistics, and the police so far have not been able to produce them. First, the police told the newspaper the information did not exist, but later on corrected themselves by stating the statistics would interfere with ongoing investigations.

If De Telegraaf, which is the biggest newspaper in The Netherlands, would withhold the information, they would receive information on refugee pick-pockets from designated ‘safe countries’ and statistics on rejected asylum seekers who refuse to leave the country. The cherry on top would be an “exclusive interview” with Chief of Police Erik Akerboom on these topics.

De Telegraaf calls it a “hush deal,” but the Police see this different. In an official statement, Akerboom elaborated that:

“We never attempted to silence De Telegraaf (…) we merely made an error in judgement (…) we were too narrow-minded on the interpretation of the WOB request (…) we will analyse the WOB request again.”

The political backlash was severe. MP Lilian Helder (Party for Freedom) said it is: “disgraceful (…) the police undermines its authority by first lying about the information and then claiming it would interfere with ongoing investigations.” Chris van Dam (Christian Democrats) stated it’s: “hard to believe that the police is investigating áll the asylum seekers in the Netherlands.” 

And sticking to his story, Telegraaf’s editor in chief Paul Jansen stated that: “in this case, the police lost its credibility. First, they lie about the existence of the statistics, and then they state falsehoods about their attempts to withhold the publication from De Telegraaf. It is a disgrace. The Police should be trustworthy and transparent.”

Police Spokesman Robert Salome stated today “De Telegraaf will receive the statistics as soon as possible,” and that “it has a high priority.”

And luckily so, because after what happened in Sweden, one would like to believe this event in The Netherlands is merely an unfortunate coincidence and not a European trend.