Netherlands - plans for ID checks

ID checks to be introduced

In future police will be authorized to require anyone in the Netherlands older than 12 to show proof of his or her identity. Failure to do so can result in a prison sentence of up to two months or a fine of up to 2,250 Euro. Police will be given powers to request proof of identity for the purpose of carrying out all their regular tasks, specifically the investigation of criminal offences, maintenance of public order, and providing assistance. Those responsible for carrying out administrative supervision will also be given the same powers, in order to improve law enforcement.

Thus, the new requirement will not be confined merely to criminal suspects. These are the main points of a Bill proposing a broadened identification requirement. Mr J P H Donner, Minister of Justice, has submitted the bill for the advice of various bodies including the Data Protection Board, the Public Prosecution Service, the Council of Police Commissioners, the Council for the Judiciary, the Netherlands Association for the Judiciary (NVVR), the Netherlands Bar Association (Nova), and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities.

The Strategic Accord 2002 stated that a general identification requirement would be implemented in order to combat crime and to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement. The bill is a detailed version of proposals subsequently laid down in the National Safety Plan.

Current legislation allows police to request ID from a person stopped, or a suspect who has been arrested. If the suspect refuses, or if the police have reason to believe that he has given a false name, then the person may be arrested so that measures can be taken for establishing his identity (photographs, fingerprints etc.). The suspect can also be held for interrogation for a period not exceeding twice six hours. The police currently have no powers to demand proof of identity in performing its regular police tasks, such as maintenance of public order and providing assistance.

Aside from these tasks, the police have a number of special supervisory tasks, defined by the Police Act. Examples are traffic supervision, whereby Road Traffic Regulations allow the police to ask to see a person's driving licence. Also, in the case of alien supervision, the Aliens Act 2000 grants the police powers to request ID as well as proof of residence status in the event that a reasonable suspicion exists of illegal residence. The new bill proposes no changes in these two areas.

In addition to the police, current law also empowers, and sometimes even obliges, a number of other bodies to request ID in cases described in the statutes. One example is banks, which may request it for opening an account. Civil-law notaries may also require ID, and it must also be furnished with any application for a tax and social insurance number etc. All this will also remain unchanged.

The present bill introduces major additions to the current identification requirement. The future legal requirement contains an obligation to show ID, entailing the obligation to carry valid ID at all times.

The General Administrative Law Act will also include an obligation to prove identity in order to enable the implementation of administrative supervision in the various statutes involved. The obligation can be met by using currently recognized identity documents. This means that no new ones are to be proposed. In requesting ID, police and administrative supervisors will be bound to the criterion establishing the reasonable exercise of duties. This means that there must always be a reason for performing identity checks, in other words that they are not carried out randomly, but that the powers to do so shall be exercised for the purpose of improving law enforcement.

For further information/comments contact the Information Department, telephone: +31 (0)70 370 68 50

Buro Jansen & Janssen
Postbus 10591
1001 EN Amsterdam
tel. 020-6123202
fax 020-6123202

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