- Category: News
- Created on Thursday, 17 November 2011 12:27
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
Dion Graus took time out during a debate on inspections in the cattle sector in the lower house of Parliament to round on a journalist from “gossip rag” De Pers.
Graus accused the newspaper of “offensiveness” and “insolence” before suggesting that “some kind of press police” should be brought in together with the dierenpolitie (animal police).
The proposal for 500 so-called ‘animal cops’ was one of the flagship policies in the ‘tolerance agreement’ (gedoogakkord) which secured the PVV’s support for the minority centre-right coalition.
But implementing it in practice has been beset with difficulties. Furious wrangling behind the scenes about the extent of the force’s powers has stalled the process, with the main argument focusing on whether they should intervene in the agriculture sector.
According to documents obtained by De Pers, the ministry of justice believes there is no reason for the animal police to interfere with the existing inspection regime.
The level of training officers will receive has also come under scrutiny, while police chiefs and opposition politicians fear that the whole scheme will harm the image of the police. Amsterdam’s chief commissioner, Bernard Welten, coined the now famous epithet “guinea-pig police” (caviapolitie) in his new year address, when he said: “These people have to come out of my existing capacity which is already under pressure.”
Local mayors have publicly complained about the prospect of laying off regular police to make room for the animal cops. Eberhardt van der Laan, mayor of Amsterdam, who faces having to redeploy 59 officers, said last week: “Will I have to send officers round to people’s houses to check if the dog is being abused or the goldfish are in too small a bowl?”
Even the Party for Animals (PvdD), which has two seats in the Dutch parliament, has dismissed the plan as “police dog work”. “The training is worthless, it’s unclear what they’ll be allowed to do and they’re being ridiculed as well,” said party leader Marianne Thieme.
The combustible Graus has also taken exception to the use of the English term ‘animal cops’, claiming it trivialises the work of the dierenpolitie. “Animal cops are volunteers like you see in an American TV show,” he said. “We’ll be getting a national police force to tackle animal abuse.”
Graus’s relationship with De Pers has been at rock bottom since the newspaper reported last month, after making freedom of information inquiries, that the animal cops would be almost exclusively concerned with the welfare of house pets.
A furious Graus responded: “Wow, what a pile of rubbish you’ve written once more! Makes no sense and will be utterly discredited in two weeks’ time,” signing off in English: “Take it from one who knows!”
Six weeks later, neither Graus nor anyone else seems to be any the wiser about when the dierenpolitie will go into action, or what they will do. The prospect of a ‘press police’, meanwhile, seems even more remote.