More attention must be paid to disturbed people: Erasmus prof.

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According to psychologist and professor Hjalmar van Marle, health care professionals should be extra alert when it comes to disturbed people. He said this following the incident in the NOS building last night.

Van Marle, who is connected to the Erasmus University, is worried about the danger posed by so-called lone wolves. In particular her refers to the man who threatened bystanders with knives in Groningen on Sunday and to Bart U., the disturbed man whose DNA was found in the house of the murdered former Health Minister Els Borst.

"What worries me is that such loners wreak havoc on the streets", Van Marle said in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. According to him, all Dutch people have to be more alert when it comes to disturbed people. "Just like we pay attention to suspicious packages at the station." Van Marle aims his call particularly on his colleagues in healthcare. "We often see such people. And sometimes we do not see them again. I think that we as healthcare professionals need to pay extra attention."

Last night Tarik Z. (19) forced his way into the Media Park in Hilversum and demanded airtime on the NOS 20:00 news. He wanted to talk about "world affairs" and "bring out issues that challenge today's society". In his own words he acted on behalf of secret services. Van Marle calls Z.'s story incoherent. "He has a way of thinking that is too vague, which suggests that he is disturbed."

Yesterday, before the incident at the NOS building, Van Marle stated that the system rattles when it comes to disturbed people. He referred to Bart van U., who despite previous encounters with the police and the court, somehow managed to escape treatment. Van U. is currently in custody in connection with the murders of his sister, Lois van U., and former minister Els Borst.

In 2012 Bart van U was in court for illegal firearm possession. He was labeled "mentally unstable" and "psychological dysfunction" and "delusions" were also mentioned. Despite this, Van U. did not end up in jail or admitted to an institution. Justice, the court and the mental health care say in unison that they had no legal options to stop the uncooperative Van U. According to Van Marle, this is because healthcare and the penitentiary system does not work as closely together as they should.

Van Marle points to the fact that Van U. was allowed to walk free after the sentencing in 2012. "At that time they just let him walk. That is perhaps understandable from a judicial point of view, but they put in insufficient effort to get Van U. admitted into a healthcare facility, because that had a real chance of success. It is just not part of justice's routine." Van Marle does not classify that as a "failure". "The sector just does not think it through enough."

In 2014 there were 14 homicides and violent incidents in which the perpetrator(s) had been in contact with both the judiciary and healthcare. It is a difficult situation. Every day the police see about 140 disturbed and overwrought people, representing about 52 thousand incidents a year. Van Marle acknowledges that it is not feasible to bring all of them to the proper care. "Preventing everything, that won't succeed. But there are gaps that need to be worked on."

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