Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach) - Credit: Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 16:00
Dutch army experiments with recruiting petty criminals
The Ministry of Defense launched an experiment in which young people with petty crimes on their record are offered the chance of being in the Dutch armed forces. In this way the Ministry wants to give them a job, something that's often hard to find with a criminal record, and hopefully keep them from a life of crime, RTL Nieuws reports. A total of 30 young people will form part of this experiment per year. The first two boys are already recruited. They've been placed in units that do not know about their past. Defense spokesperson Klaas Meijer stresses that this is not a reintroduction of conscription. "We are offering about 30 young people with poor prospects an opportunity to work in defense." he said to the broadcaster. Not every young person with a criminal record will qualify for this program. "This involves young people who, for example, has serious truancy or who committed a minor burglary", Meijer said. Young people who spent time in prison, have connections with criminal gangs or committed sexual offences will not qualify. Everyone is screened first. Researcher Peer van der Helm, who is participating in this project, thinks it a good way to keep the involved young people a way from crime. "In many juvenile offenders we see that they are looking for identity and respect." he explained. "Identity and respect are really basic needs in life. But robbing people is obviously not the only way to get it. The army is a very good place for young people who want to belong somewhere."