March 19, 2019

Protection and Security, the Diplomatic Front Office

By Frans Scholten and Edwin Verhage.

In the ten years of its existence, the Police’s Diplomatic Front Office (DFO) Unit The Hague has proven its value as a central point of contact for the diplomatic corps and representatives of international organizations. The office has been able to develop itself as a crucial contact point and has provided advice and information on the services of The Hague’s Police in general, as well as on security related questions.

The Diplomatic Front Office maintains contacts with representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations. The office’s employees can answer specific questions in the field of security, guarding and prevention, as well as a number of other issues. Besides acting as a liaison between the Police and the diplomatic community of The Hague, the office also maintains contacts with external partners such as the City Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the NCTV (National Coordinator on Counterterrorism and Security).

The Diplomatic Front Office uses factual information to inform and advice the diplomatic offices and international organization in the field of security measures. In order to be able to operate in an optimal way, actors such as the Police, the embassies and the International Organizations must exchange information in an appropriate manner.

The Diplomatic Front Office is based at the unit office of Burgemeester Patijnlaan, The Hague, and the department consists of four employees.

Frans Scholten has been working at the DFO for about 8 years as a liaison officer. He began his career with the police in 1983, and since then he has held various positions in the fields of surveillance, crisis and conflict management.

Edwin Verhage joined the police in 1981, working in the surveillance service. He then went on working at the DKDB and as a team leader in explosives exploration. He has been working at the DFO for 4 years as a liaison officer.

Maurice Tholen  begun his police career in 1999 with the Railway Police and later with the National Unit. He also worked as a team chief at the Department of Guard and Security and he is now a business supporter at DFO.

Rita Vuurens joined the Guard and Security Department in 1995, and she held various monitoring functions there. Within DFO she is often the first point of contact for all external partners, and she also performs a number of administrative tasks.

Dynamic Diplomatic Surveillance

The police has various option to guard a building. The most visible method of monitoring is the “monitoring container”. The advantage of this method lies in its 24-hours-a-day activity, but the disadvantage is that the observation from the monitoring container is limited.

Another method is monitoring by means of Sharpened Driving supervision through an armoured vehicle, with the building being monitored at least twice per hour. This method allows for a much broader observation of the environment, but the observation is not permanent. Such observation is nevertheless carried out 24 hours a day.

There is also the possibility of monitoring a building using cameras. On the desk of the Department of Guard and Security, there is a monitoring centre, where images are viewed 24/7. Through this method, there is always a good image of the space around the building, without any police being on the site.

In addition to these monitoring measures, there is the Dynamic Diplomatic Surveillance (DDS). The purpose of this form of surveillance is to supervise dynamically and unpredictably all diplomatic buildings within the scope of The Hague’s unit. The DDS can also give extra attention to specific temporary activities of an embassy or an International Organization.

The DDS is equipped with marked surveillance vehicles. These vehicles are different from the standard police cars as to their colour and stripes, and they display the text “Dynamic Diplomatic Surveillance” underlining their special task.

The concept of the DDS includes DDS patrol units 24 hours per day. The DDS has been integrated into the Police Central Control Room system, and it can be deployed whenever a situation demands so. In certain circumstances, urgent help is not necessary, for instance regarding the security of a diplomatic mission or an international organization. For emergencies, the alarm number is 112.

The Diplomatic Front Office can be reached by telephone 24 hours a day. During office hours, one of the employees of the DFO will be present, while outside office hours the incoming call will be received by the Sharpened Driving supervision through an armoured vehicle, This person can also take the first steps in case of urgent matters.

Contact: E: diplomatic.frontoffice@politie.nl T: 088 – 9 64 9 64 9

 

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Photography by Remco Kuiper.

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