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Research Questions

  1. How is police performance measured abroad?
  2. What aspects of policing do the measurements cover?
  3. For what purposes are the measurements used?
  4. How did the methodology for the measurements come about?
  5. How reliable, valid and representative are the performance measurements?
  6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these measurements?
  7. Are any effects of these measurements known?
  8. Which foreign performance measurements can be labelled as 'qualitatively good', 'innovative' and/or 'promising'?
  9. Which methods are used in the Netherlands to gain insight into police performance?
  10. Which 'high-quality', 'innovative' and/or 'promising' foreign performance measurements are relevant to Dutch police work and performance?
  11. Can these foreign performance measurements also be applied in the Netherlands?
  12. What insights does the research provide on improving police performance measurement in the Netherlands?

Measuring the performance of the police is a complex activity that encompasses considerations of the social, legal, institutional and political context in which a police force operates. The definitions and methods used need to be regularly updated and adapted to reflect the constant changes in these contexts. This study follows from a broader desire, articulated by the national police force and the Ministry for Justice and Security, to improve the way police performance is measured in the Netherlands. Indeed, approaches to performance measurement adopted by police forces abroad may offer valid examples for the Netherlands and provide opportunities for general learning.

The report summarises the findings from the study, drawing on information gathered from ten countries (including the Netherlands), an in-depth evidence review and stakeholder interviews in five case study jurisdictions as well as the Netherlands, a review of the available literature, and information solicited through expert interviews. The researchers highlight how different police jurisdictions have approached performance measurement, focusing on the stated purposes of the performance measurement; the reliability of the approaches; identified or potential adverse side effects of measuring performance; and examples of good or innovative practice in these areas. Finally, the report offers concrete recommendations aimed at giving greater coherence to the Dutch strategy for police performance measurement.

The findings from the study will be of interest to policymakers and professionals responsible for law enforcement organisations and to researchers with an interest in police performance. 

Key Findings

The purpose of measuring police performance

  • The study found that there is currently no agreement among Dutch stakeholders on why performance should be measured. Careful consideration needs to be given to the purpose for tracking performance before any of the practices identified in the case study jurisdictions can be applied in the Netherlands. Consensus on this issue may be reached through consultation among key stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Justice and Security, and national and regional police units.

The level(s) at which the framework for performance measurement should be set

  • The level at which performance objectives, indicators, measures and/or targets should be set and by whom needs to be agreed. Currently, the strategic direction from the Ministry of Justice and Security is supplemented by both regional and local agreements on what should be measured, and against which targets. The study found that key national stakeholders in the Netherlands consequently do not have a clear picture of the performance indicators and targets currently used across the country, as the design of these metrics is partly left to regional and local stakeholders.
  • Some of the case study countries have chosen a different approach in this regard. This means that certain practices adopted in other jurisdiction may not be transferable to the Netherlands. Indeed, before any of these practices can be adopted, careful consideration should be given as to whether the current structure for stakeholder involvement is the preferred approach.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the Dutch Research and Documentation Centre and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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