Dutch coppers end up in a virtual spat

Police in The Netherlands are having to come to grips with a malfunctioning IT system. To make things better, the coppers in the low lands will also have to brace themselves for the fallout threatening to rain down on them after the Dutch Data Protection Authority said the police are breaking the law by illegally saving scanned licence plates.

A regional IT system has decided it would be spiffing to be as fast as an Intel 80386 based PC running Windows Vista. Peter-Jaap Aalbersberg, chief of the district of Ijsselland’s police corps, wrote a damning letter yesterday to the police’s IT-services unit vtsPN, stating the problems were catastrophic, cited Dutch radio station Radio Nederland Wereldomroep on their website.

Police in the district of Ijsselland are having to send law-abiding citizens home, as they cannot use their computers to file reports. The problems are the result of both a new system currently being introduced and network problems. Cops on the street are getting information too late, which means criminals manage to slip away.

On top of it all, the police in the districts Rotterdam-Rijnmond and Ijselland have been storing all automatically scanned license plates in a database, despite Dutch police law stating licence plates not matched to suspicious vehicles and their owners. Dutch police law clearly states that scanned licence plates which do not deliver a hit, i.e. are not linked to any crime, must immediately be purged.

Nonetheless, coppers in Rotterdam-Rijnmond saved all licence plates in a database for 120 days, whereas the nice folk in Ijselland did so for a mere ten days.

Dutch motorists driving along the regional motorways can  rest assured they are stored as suspects in a crime database managed by an institution which is breaking the law, despite being tasked with upholding it.