'Tip of the iceberg' as police officers fired after corruption and security inquiries

Dozens of police officers have been dismissed from the force in recent weeks following investigations into corruption and breaches of official secrecy, amid warnings that the revelations represent the 'tip of the iceberg'. A report obtained by the AD newspaper said police divisions across the country were being infiltrated by organised crime, with 19 officers in Midden-Nederland based in Utrecht found to have criminal links. Last week the newspaper revealed that the gang led by Ridouan Taghi, who is facing trial for drug dealing and organising a number of underworld killings, had connections with one of the most senior officers in Utrecht. The officer was named in witness testimony seen by AD and has since been fired following an investigation. In Limburg a senior officer was suspended for 'potentially unprofessional behaviour' and three team members have been taken off duty, following an inquiry into four other police personnel who were suspended in April. A 55-year-old member of Amsterdam's police division was suspended and arrested last week on suspicion of corruption in office, tampering with computers and breaching official secrecy. It is the seventh time in the last two months that a police staff member in Amsterdam has been suspended for professional misconduct; in the earlier incidents employees were sanctioned for stalking, fraud, dereliction of duty and misusing information from police computers. Jan Struijs, chairman of the NPD police union, said the force needed to be made more resilient to criminal influences. 'Our officers are being approached by stealth by criminals,' he said. 'It happens at every level. Officers need to be trained to deal with it in a good and responsible manner.' Discrimination The police have also been criticised for failing to tackle a culture of discrimination and bullying following the departure of Carel Boers, who was hired to advise the force on its diversity policy. Boers said he had witnessed officers using derogatory language about citizens, including racial slurs, and being openly disparaging about colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds. 'It's quite normal in the police for people to say: "You're a Moroccan and I'm never going to trust you," he wrote in a letter to justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus. He accused the head of the force, Erik Akerboom, of refusing to acknowledge or deal with the problem. 'Akerboom's leadership consists of systematically avoiding any kind of conflict. It is more important for him not to make mistakes than to do the right thing.'  More >

Galapagos agrees $5bn deal with Gilead

Dutch-Belgian biotech company Galapagos has agreed a $5.1bn deal with Gilead Sciences which sees the US group almost double its stake from 12.3% to 22%. The deal includes a $3.95bn upfront payment and $1.1bn equity investment and gives Gilead exclusive access to all current and future compounds produced by Galapagos.  Galapagos will use the cash to expand its research activities and build commercial infrastructure. Galapagos also said it would ask its shareholders to allow Gilead to increase its ownership to up to 29.9%. This would be followed by a 10-year standstill clause that would prevent Gilead from accumulating any additional stake or seeking to take over the company. Galapagos' portfolio currently includes six molecules in clinical trials and more than 20 pre-clinical programmes, Gilead said. The deal 'reflects Gilead’s intent to grow our innovation network through diverse and creative partnerships,' chief executive Daniel O’Day said in the website statement. The two companies have also agreed to amend certain terms around the development and commercialisation of filgotinib, the experimental drug developed by Galapagos to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Galapagos, which is based in Belgium and listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange, was formed in 1999.  More >

Councils urged not to vacuum caterpillars

oak processionary caterpillar Council pest controllers have been urged not to use vacuums or poison to remove oak processionary caterpillars as they risk causing environmental damage. Conservation agency Vogelbescherming Nederland said biological solutions that encourage natural predators such as insects, birds and bats to feed on the caterpillars were more effective. The agency has published model letters which people can send to their municipality pressing them to fight the spread of the caterpillars by more eco-friendly methods. The larvae of the oak processionary moth are covered in poisonous hairs which, when shed, can cause itching, swelling and breathing difficulties if inhaled. Vogelbescherming said councils should hold off from mowing roadside verges and cultivate plants such as clover, honeysuckle and dead-nettles to sustain predators. The municipality of Wapenveld said it had reduced the infestation of oak processionary caterpillars by 85% since adopting biological pest control.  More >

SP and CU call for EU labour shake-up

The Netherlands should be able to decide how many migrant workers it allows into the country from eastern and central Europe, according to two Dutch political parties. ChristenUnie from the government coalition and the opposition Socialists want to make it possible for the Netherlands to agree deals with Poland, Romania and Bulgaria about how many and what type of worker should be allowed to come and work here. 'Ukranians are replacing Poles. Poles, sometimes working in poor conditions, are replacing the Dutch. And people on welfare benefits are being written off,' ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said on Twitter. Oekraïners vervangen Polen. Polen vervangen, onder soms slechte omstandigheden, Nederlanders. En mensen in de bijstand worden afgeschreven. Er moet betere regulering komen en een rem op arbeidsmigratie. In @ADnl doen @MarijnissenL en ik eerste voorstellen daarvoor. pic.twitter.com/qBfTzyAL8K — Gert-Jan Segers (@gertjansegers) July 11, 2019 The plan would not conflict with EU rules on the free movement of people because of a clause which allows countries to intervene if there is a threat of 'social disruption', the parties say. Currently some 250,000 people from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria work in the Netherlands, often doing poorly paid work on short term contracts. Segers and his SP counterpart Lilian Marijnissen argue that some employers are taking advantage of migrant workers by paying low wages and offering poor working conditions. Workers from Poland, Romania and other eastern and central European countries earn the lowest wages of all immigrant groups, according to research from national statistics office CBS published earlier this year. Some 80% of the 180,000 Polish nationals working in the Netherlands earn less than €15 per hour and 18% of them earn less than €10, the CBS said. Warning Earlier this year, ABN Amro economists warned that many eastern Europeans in the Netherlands will leave because the economies in their home countries are growing and wages there are rising. In particular, the farming sector, manufacturing, construction and transport will be hit because companies in these sectors are already feeling the impact of the shortage of workers. The official Dutch unemployment rate is currently below 4%. Segers and Marijinissen plan to publish more details about their plans after the summer break.  More >

Dutch boy sparks UK airport security probe

A 12-year-old Dutch boy has sparked a major security inquiry at Heathrow Airport after he boarded a plane unaccompanied without a ticket, according to UK media. The boy was only spotted when a stewardess asked to see his boarding pass after he got onto the British Airways flight to Los Angeles, the Daily Telegraph reported. The plane was delayed for four hours while all passengers were ordered to get off and go through a second security check on Sunday evening. The boy refused to leave the aircraft until he was led away by police. British police confirmed that the stowaway was an 'unaccompanied minor' who was 'not a UK national.' He is believed to have arrived at Heathrow as a transit passenger. British Airways and Heathrow both apologised for the delay and the airport said it was investigating how the boy passed through security checks unnoticed. A spokesman said: 'The individual did not represent a security risk and, purely as a precaution, the aircraft in question was re-screened and has since departed.'  More >

Albert Heijn trials delivery robots

The largest Dutch supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, has begun a trial of a 'delivery robot' that sends groceries out to its customers without the need for a driver. The electric vehicle, which has a range of eight kilometres, is being tested within the confines of Eindhoven's High Tech Campus as it is not allowed on the open road. The Aitonomi robot has been developed by the Swiss-German technology firm Teleretail. Staff pack the groceries into the 'bezorgrobot' before the vehicle makes its way to the delivery address using cameras and sensors. Customers will still need to step outside to collect their shopping. Andre ten Wolde, of pizza chain Domino's, told NOS that previous test runs with delivery robots had been successful, although the vehicles struggled to get over high kerbs. Ten Wolde said the biggest challenge was finding a legal way to enable the vehicles to travel on public roads without compromising safety. 'Lawmakers will have to think carefully about it, I accept that,' he said. 'You don't want accidents such as we've had with the Stint. Once legislators are ready for it, we'll see them in the streets here.'  More >

Van Vleuten wins second Giro Rosa in a row

Annemiek van Vleuten sealed her second victory in a row in the Giro Rosa, the women's tour of Italy, in a race dominated by Dutch riders. Van Vleuten finished three minutes 45 seconds ahead of Anna van der Breggen, the winner in 2015 and 2017, while the final stage was won by three-time champion Marianne Vos. Dutch women have won the race in seven of the last 10 years. 'It's great to win again, especially because I feel a lot better this year than last time,' said the 36-year-old Van Vleuten, who laid the basis for her victory on the fifth of the 10 stages. 'I felt comfortable today, with the team around me. It was a fantastic Giro Rosa. It's a dream come true again. 'It's nice for the team too, we were extremely well prepared and worked hard for each other. You can win a one-day race on your own, but in a multi-stage tour you need your team every day.' Vos won a sprint to the line on the final day to claim her fourth stage win of the year and her 25th in total, while Van Vleuten claimed two stage wins. Among those congratulating Van Vleuten was her Mitchelton-Scott stablemate, the South African rider Daryl Impey, who won stage nine of the men's Tour de France on Bastille Day to make it a double celebration for the team. 'Annemiek is a fantastic athlete, if you see what she's done in the Giro,' said Impey. 'I need to say congrats to her and the team.'    More >