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What really is happening in the Dutch Borderlands

As a result of the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (RNM) is stepping up immigration controls in the Dutch borderlands. These measures are part of the so-called Mobile Security Monitor (in Dutch: Mobiel Toezicht Veiligheid), “Schengen proof” border controls in the 20 kilometer zone along the German and Belgian borders.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee is a police force with military status. With the Mobile Security Monitor, the RNM aims not only to combat illegal residence and human smuggling with their increased presence in the border areas, but also to prevent substantial national security incidents and to generally monitor the migration flows. MSM is highly valued by Dutch society. Yet a lack of clarity seems to exist as to the exact goal of the MSM, although it was established in 1994.

Scientific Research “Decision-making in the Dutch Borderlands” by Maartje van der Woude, Professor of Sociology of Law at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Development, will put an end to that. Her book has been published, in Dutch, by Boom Lemma Uitgevers. Parts of the underlying research for the book have been funded by the Leiden University Fund and the Gratama Foundation.

The research “Decision-making in the Dutch Borderlands” is unique. Never before has the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee allowed a scientific researcher to be so close to their daily operations for such a long period of time. Between November 2013 and March 2015, Professor Maartje van der Woude and two PhD students Jelmer Brouwer en Tim Dekkers at Leiden University observed the border patrol for 800 hours. Additionally, they spoke with dozens of Marechaussee personnel and questioned more than 160 civilians who were submitted to the immigration spot-checks.

Decision-making in the Dutch Borderlands provides answers to important questions. Who are subjected to security checks, which car brands or licence plates attract attention and why? To what extent are the checks intelligence led? Which limitations apply to daily operations? How do civilians, Dutch and non-Dutch, experience these security checks? And above all: what are the benefits to Dutch society as a whole?

For example, research shows that different ideas exist among Marechaussee personnel about the goals of the Mobile Security Monitor and the appropriate target groups. Among those who were subjected to a security check uncertainties remain. They were treated respectfully, but it is unclear why they were singled out.

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