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Police and Pressure Groups

NCJ Number
Tijdschrift voor de politie Volume: 40 Issue: 12 Dated: (1978) Pages: 581-588
A Goedendorp; P A Struijk
Date Published
8 pages
The function of pressure groups in Dutch society and the role of the police in controlling action groups are outlined.
The pressure group is defined as a special interest group which seeks to influence Government policy in a particular direction; action groups are loosely organized pressure groups. Such groups do not seek Government control or responsibility for policy, and their political function is not officially recognized. Pressure groups may be criticized for pressing interests not in keeping with general welfare, for using unacceptable pressure techniques, for lacking internal and external controls, and for being a corruptive influence on Government. Techniques used by the groups include influencing public opinion, cultivating direct contacts with policymakers, infiltrating of policymaking bodies, pressing public officials for relevant information, threatening the Government with direct action, and demonstrating with techniques of passive resistance or violent acts. Pressure groups function for Government as a responsible source of criticism, for the political system as a conduit of communication between citizens and the Government, and for group members as a democratic means of expressing their opinions. Groups may be either rationally oriented with good communication and clear goals or emotionally oriented with poorly defined goals. Until the 1960's, the Dutch police remained neutral with regard to social problems and traditionally applied laws for controlling disturbances of public order. The action groups of the 1960's frequently forced police into taking positions on critical issues. At the same time police resources and the desire for central control have also grown, making it possible to deal with such groups. Police have come to view action groups as signs of social problems with which the Government must deal and accept the task of intervening when conflicts arise in the expression of special interests. In such interventions police should remain neutral and should avoid giving the appearance of being the strong arm of the law. A 9-item bibliography and figures are supplied.


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