In policy research, the search for the correct balance between proximity and independence has never been easy. Policymakers need proximity to the research in order to ensure that it is relevant. Yet, there are also concerns about the rigour of research. To analyze this relationship in more detail, this paper focuses on the ‘extreme case’ of the WODC in the Netherlands, an internal but formally independent research unit of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. Research methods include semi-structured interviews and a survey (N = 673). We conclude that government leans on WODC researchers in all phases of the policy research process. In most cases, WODC researchers successfully resist pressure from policymakers, yet continuing pressure may easily lead to research methods, conclusions and press releases being altered for policy reasons. Finally, there are general lessons drawn from the WODC case that will assist in achieving a good balance between proximity and independence in policy research.