Police attitude stops young sex abuse victims reporting, expert says

The police need to change their approach to handling sexual abuse and human trafficking, according to Merel van Groningen, experience expert and counselor for loverboy victims. Fewer and fewer underage victims come forward because of the police's attitude, she said to the Telegraaf.

"I know of cases of minor loverboy victims who were told by a detective: 'but it was your own fault'. You've lost such a victim", Van Groningen said.

Underage victims' willingness to report is extremely low. And if victims do go to the police, their case often ends up on a shelf, she said. "I reported a case two years ago. There was a minor girl from Brabant in a sex video", Van Groningen said. The police said they would investigate and take the video offline, but it can still be found. Inquiries with the police about the state of the case yields nothing concrete.

Richard Korver, an attorney that specializes in assisting sex crime victims, confirms this image. "Victims come to me increasingly often before they report. And the willingness to do so is only decreasing", he said to the newspaper. "You are seeing more and more private initiatives, such as the Merel van Groningen Foundation. Well intentioned, but it is absurd that something like that is necessary."

The  Merel van Groningen Foundation is working on an experiment in which victims are prepared about what they can expect when they go file a report with the police and afterwards, when the case ends up with the Public Prosecutor. "But also seeking contact with the right person within the police", Van Groningen said to the Telegraaf. "Because when a victim has to call a general number, is transferred multiple times and has to tell her story every time, she quickly hangs up again."

A spokesperson for the National Police told the newspaper that they view sex crime cases as an important priority. "All 40 thousand police officers are receiving a course in recognizing sings of this type of case."