Police and detention

In the Netherlands everybody has a duty to identify themselves. Anyone aged 14 and older must show a valid ID if the police requests it. Those without a residence permit are not able to show the proper papers. This means that they constantly live in fear of being detained.
It is important to know when the police may ask for proof of identity and what can happen if someone can not identify themselves: someone without documents can then take this into account.

I am undocumented and I have been robbed. Can I report this to the police without risking being arrested myself?
In principle anyone who is the victim of a criminal offence should be allowed to report to police. It should be safe for people without a residence permit to report a crime. If you are not secure about going to the police on your own, ask a support organisation to call in advance and to go with you to the police station. Please note that the police may ask you for a proof of your identity. 

If you encounter any difficulties reporting a crime, ask your support organisation for
help. These organisations often have their own contact person within the police
force and are always more than willing to help you!

My neighbour gives me food and money sometimes. I am undocumented, is this a punishable offence if he helps me?
No, helping people, no matter who they are, is not a punishable offence.

Is the police allowed to investigate my private belongings?
Once there is a ‘reasonable suspicion of illegal residence’ the police is allowed to examine your personal belongings such as your bag, your phone and your housing accommodation. In this way the police want to obtain information about your country of origin. In some cases the police will visit and question your acquaintances, for example about your nationality. Your acquaintances are not obliged to answer these questions.

What can happen if the police stops me and asks me for my ID?
If the police check up on you and you cannot show a valid ID card or your residence permit, the police are allowed to detain you for 6 hours (nightly hours don’t count). If further investigation is required this period of time can be extended by 48 hours. This requires the Superintendent’s approval. After this period of time the police can detain you in a detention cell. Later you may be transferred to a centre for the Detention of Aliens.

When will the police detain me in detention of aliens?
If you have no residence permit and the police suspect that you will not return voluntary, you can be placed in alien detention. Detention is an ultimate measure, a less severe measure can be applied if the person concerned has a fixed abode or if reliable private persons act as guarantors. Children can be placed in detention for the maximum of 2 weeks. Children cannot be separated from their parents.

How long will the detention of aliens last?
Detention of aliens may last for a maximum of 18 months. After 6 months, detention can only be extended if you do not cooperate with return, or if the embassy will issue documents quickly. If you have a passport and you have bought a ticket yourself, detention of aliens can be discontinued because this shows that you are co-operating with the eviction.

I have a Dublinclaim and I am in detention, what to do now?
For people with a Dublinclaim your detention and return to the first country of entry in Europe is usually within a few weeks. If you want to leave that other European country again and want to return to the Neterlands you need to go to Ter Apel again to make your Dublinclaim start again (18 months).

Am I entitled to a lawyer?
If you are in Detention of Aliens you are entitled to a lawyer free of charge. This may be your own lawyer but also a duty lawyer. This lawyer can lodge a complaint in Court against the detention or against the continuation of the detention. During the first court case it will be investigated whether it was actually allowed to detain you and whether there is a prospect of deportation. In all follow-up cases the main issue will be the ‘prospect of deportation’. Most court cases have to be applied for by the lawyer. This applies to the first court case about the lawfulness of the detention, for interim assessments as well as for the request for the discontinuation of the detention after 6 months. Only if the lawyer has not brought an appeal against the detention of aliens, the authorities have to do this within 28 days.