Development aid

For many issues certain countries have found good solutions. No country is so great that it can’t learn from others. And so development aid should now extend to every nation in the world. The aid can be about improving democracy, health care, the police force, or something else like urban planning or dealing with drug addicts. It is already happening but it can be done on a much wider scale.

Technological innovations spread much easier than social innovations. Cultural aspects often play huge a role in how a country came to handle a specific social issue. Perhaps that is why development aid is often not very successful. Those who receive the aid must be capable and willing to work with new ways of thinking. So if a certain country plans to copy an idea from another country, it may be good to think of how the proposed solution fits within existing customs and beliefs within the country itself.

For example, for decades the Dutch police have problems solving crime. In 2002 the University of Nijmegen compared the police performance of the Netherlands and Nordrhein-Westfalen, a German state that is comparable to the Netherlands with regard to the number of inhabitants and the number of crimes committed. This research showed that the Dutch police only solved around 20% of the reported crime while the German police solved around 50%. In 2016 this issue still persists.

As of 2007 registered crime rates in the Netherlands went down. Dutch prisons are underutilised while Belgium and Norway are renting excess Dutch prison space. Government bureaucrats are eager to frame this positively but the question remains why so much crime remains unsolved. As a consequence many citizens may not bother to report small crimes as they feel that the police won’t take action. Perhaps it is time for a different approach. Why not let the Germans help to improve crime detection?

This is easier said than done. It affects the police organisation as well as culture. The German police have more crime detectives while the Dutch police are more visible on the streets. Political choices determine the priorities of the police force and these differ in the Netherlands and Germany. Still, it may well be that the Dutch police and politicians can learn from their German counterparts. After all, solving crime is one of the most important tasks of the police.