Police volunteers in the Netherlands: a study on policy and practice

Ronald van Steden*, Shanna M. Mehlbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Fuelled by the popularity of citizen participation in community safety and by an ongoing pluralisation of policing, there is increasing acknowledgement of volunteer policing around the Western world. Starting with a review of the small body of knowledge that has been built up, our paper outlines the origins and background of police volunteers, their management, their role and the activities they carry out, and records their job satisfaction and working experience. Empirical findings from the Netherlands show that most police volunteers are positive about having the opportunity to do something worthwhile for society, to improve personal skills, and to make connection with regular police colleagues. Yet, at the same time, they are disappointed with their position within the force and feel uncertain about their role. As an institution, the Dutch police tends to undervalue and neglect the work of police volunteers, not least because of slow policy making processes, an unclear vision about the future of volunteer policing, and suspicion about the unwanted substitution of salaried work by voluntary work. This ambiguous attitude runs counter to the current political agenda in favour of a participatory society and active citizenship in the Netherlands, and bears striking resembles to what is known about the position of police volunteers in UK and in the US.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-433
Number of pages14
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Police volunteers
  • Policy making and management
  • Roles and activities
  • Experience


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