NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:11
Port authorities in Rotterdam, with the help of the AIVD, will have employees specifically screened for criminal offenses related to drug crime. Dagblad Trouw writes that the pilot has just started in Rotterdam.
It is expected that tens of thousands of employees will be eligible for a screening. The first groups of port employees will receive a new screening in the course of this year on the basis of the new port certificate (certificate of conduct), Trouw reports.
The additional screening was announced last year by Justice Minister Yeşilgöz, as part of a larger plan to make the country’s logistics hubs unattractive to international drug smuggling.
A step further
The group of port employees with functions that are of interest to drug smugglers are specifically screened for offenses related to drug crime. Employees at crucial posts, such as planners at terminals, may receive even more stringent AIVD screening.
If someone has committed a criminal drug offense in the past, they will no longer be given an access pass to the port area.
Many port companies already require employees to submit a standard VOG. The so-called port vog really goes a step further, says Bas Janssen, director of Delta-linqs, the employers’ association of port companies in Rotterdam in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
“We’re going to look deeper into people’s antecedents. Their past and their vulnerabilities. You don’t want people to be tempted to do things that are not wanted.”
Problem is big
It’s not just about someone’s past, says Janssen. “Even when someone is employed and even when someone leaves service, you have to look at where those vulnerabilities are. It’s a matter of continuing to do that and also focusing on a group where you think you can be effective.”
Janssen believes that this screening can contribute to combating drug smuggling in the port. “It is not a silver bullet, but with this we can create a greater barrier in that port. That more cocaine is caught and we will stop more drugs.”
It is “always the question” why this was not started sooner, says Janssen. “But the problem is now so big that action is now being taken and a lot of money has now also been released from the government.”
Help from within
Loes van der Wees, head of the policy and strategy department of the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam, says she is very happy with the new screening. “We are from the investigation and prosecution, but it is also very good that things are being done to ensure that criminals cannot enter service in the port.”
Van der Wees says he assumes that the screening will have a preventive effect. “Last week we saw a gentleman in court who had already been caught once in the harbor and now again. Then it would have been nice if he had had a screening.”
Drug snatchers are caught very regularly at the container terminals in Rotterdam, people emptying containers with drugs for a fee. The often young snatchers almost always receive help from the inside, Van der Wees sees.
It is very difficult to enter the port area unseen, she says. “The port of Rotterdam is well secured. That is hardly possible without help from the inside.”
Do different things
To prevent the problem from shifting, the port of Rotterdam is also working with Antwerp and Hamburg. “Cocaine from South America has to go to Western Europe, the drug traffickers look that broadly. That’s why we work together with those ports to combat that waterbed effect.”
The Public Prosecution Service will now see whether the pilot yields any results, says Van der Wees. “We have to do a lot of different things to curb drug crime in the port. If you tackled the demand side, that would also help enormously. Investigation and prosecution is part of it, and so is this harbor order.”
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