Dutch police often let "small-time" fugitives be: report

Police officer looking for witnesses
Police officer looking for witnesses. (Photo: Politie)

The Dutch police don't do enough to find "small-time" fugitive criminals, according to a study commissioned by Police and Science. Fugitives guilty of serious crime are actively sought, but hardly anything is done to find three quarters of the 11 thousand fugitives in the Netherlands, the researchers conclude. Most of these fugitives have to serve a sentence of 2 months or less, NOS reports.

For the first 90 days after sentencing, police base teams are responsible for finding and taking fugitive criminals into custody. In this period they visit the criminal's address about three times to see if he can be detained. But after that 90 day period, it depends on the sentence whether or not the fugitive criminal will still be sought, according to the researchers. If the punishment is less than 120 days, the fugitives are mostly ignored. They are only detained if they happen to cross paths with the police. Only a few police units invest time into tracking down these fugitives, the study concludes.

The researchers also found that information about fugitives are not well registered or shared between government departments. Mostly this only means that the wrong address is registered for a fugitive, but it could also result in a fugitive getting a benefit or a new passport. The researchers recommend that the communication and cooperation between police units and between the police and other government agencies be improved. They also advise improvement in fugitive detection strategy.

According to the police, the vast majority of criminals are arrested within the agreed upon deadline, NOS reports. But some are difficult to trace because they are abroad or "deliberately staying under the radar". The police add that some of the researchers' recommendations are already policies in the process of being implemented. The police are also experimenting with a number of ways on how to better track down fugitives.