Reports about "disturbed" persons doubled in 8 years

Dutch police officer
Dutch police officer. (Photo: Joeppoulssen/DepositPhotos)

Last year the police received over 90 thousand reports about "disturbed people", double the number received eight years ago, the police said in a statement. In 2017 the police registered 83,602 such incidents, and that number increased by 8 percent in 2018 to 90,605.

The police emphasized that one person can be responsible for multiple reports. According to the police, it mainly involves vulnerable people who risk losing grip on their lives and simply need appropriate help. Citizens who see people acting in ways they can't understand increasingly call the police because there seems to be no alternative.

The increase in the number of reports was strongest last year in the regions of Rotterdam, Oost-Brabant and Noord-Nederland. Noord-Holland was the only place to see a slight decrease in reports about "disturbed" people. Despite this slight decrease, the most reports still came from Amsterdam, followed by Rotterdam and The Hague.

There are several explanations for the growing number of reports involving "disturbed" persons. The most obvious is that cutbacks in healthcare means that fewer beds are available at psychiatric institutions, and as a result people with mental health problems more often live at home. The aging population and the increasingly complex Dutch society may also play a role.  

The police have long been calling for more aid workers in neighborhoods, who like the police are available 24/7. "Transporting, sheltering and helping people with disturbed behavior is actually not police work. Officers often come in when it is already too late. These people should be helped at an earlier stage", the police said. 

Last year the police took "good steps" to make sure that people with disturbed behavior who are not suspected of a criminal offense are taken care of in an appropriate behavior, the police said. But there is still a lot of work to do. According to the police, not every municipality has a well-functioning multidisciplinary approach to dealing with this. 


Only about 30 percent of people police call "disturbed" actually have a mental disorder making the term "disturbed" a somewhat controversial choice, researcher Bauke Koekkoek of health service GGZ Nederland said early last year. It includes a wide range of people that mainly accounts to anyone acting somewhat abnormally ever since a crime statistics reporting change in 2011. Some of those considered to be disturbed include drug addicts, elderly people with dementia, people suffering from a sudden shock or trauma, and those with mental disabilities.