Roosendaal has most drug related problems in Netherlands

Pyschoactive_Drugs, author unknown, Wikimedia commons. ()

One in eight Roosendaal residents said they experienced many problems with drug use or drug trade in their neighborhood last year - the biggest proportion of all larger municipalities in the Netherlands, according to Statistics Netherlands' Safety Monitor. The rest of the top six is made up of Limburg's four largest municipalities and Rotterdam.

Statistics Netherlands questioned the residents of all Dutch municipalities with at least 70 thousand inhabitants. In Roosendaal 13 percent of residents 15 years or olders said they face drug related problems in their neihgborhoods. In Venlo, Sittard-Geleen, Rotterdam, Maastricht and Heerlen, 8 to 10 percent of residents face drug related problems. The average of all municipalities with at least 70 thousand inhabitants was 5 percent, 2 percent higher than the national average. 

Despite still being in the top six, the proportion of Maastricht residents complaining about drug related problems halved between 2013 and 2016 - down from 20 percent to 10 percent. In 2013 a total of 58 percent of Maastricht residents said they've noticed drug use or trade in their areas, compared to 39 percent last year. The number of registered drug related crimes decreased from 410 in 2013 to 145 in 2016. 

Problems in Sittard-Geleen doubled in this same period, from 5 percent to 10 percent. The proportion of residents that noticed drug use or trade in their areas increased from 26 percent in 2013 to 35 percent last year. 

Municipalities in Zuid-Limburg and West-Brabant have been struggling with drug related problems for years. Due to their location close to the border with Belgium, the municipalities regularly deal with foreigners coming to the Netherlands for drugs. In 2009 Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom closed all their coffeeshops in an effort to deter drug tourism, according to NOS. It's not clear whether this had the desired effect. Critics say the decision only drove the drug trade underground.