Police regularly manipulate crime figures, cops say

Dutch police
A sign hanging in front of a Dutch police post. April 30, 2006Photo: M.M.Minderhoud via Michiel1972Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

The police regularly manipulate crime figures, according to a study among police officers by investigative journalism platform Investico. Criminal offenses are kept off the books, police officers try to discourage citizens from filling reports, and cases are marked as 'resolved' when they are not, according to the study published in De Groene Amsterdammer.

The platform surveyed nearly 1,500 police officers and conducted interviews with dozens of cops and others involved. 

The police officers said they feel partly forced to do "creative accounting" because of the poor systems they work with. They also admit to consciously cooperating in polishing up crime figures, often under pressure from managers. More than half of officers involved in registering crime said they've seen crimes being wrongly placed under a different category. Four in ten cops said that a higher number of solved crimes is reported than is actually the case. 80 percent of participants said that the crime figures are a poor representation of reality.

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security will continue to rely on the crime figures, even though officers say they have been manipulated, ANP reports. He cannot "verify" the Investico survey, he said. The Minister points out that independent institutes like Statistics Netherlands and the Ministry's scientific institute say that fewer and fewer crimes have been reported to the police for years. The Justice and Security Inspectorate finds the police figures to be in order, and figures from the business world and international surveys tie in with this, he said.

Grapperhaus thinks it is good that National Police Chief Erik Akerboom takes this poll seriously, he said according to the news wire. "This is important." Akerboom wants to "take stock" after he discussed the survey with his staff, the Minister said. "I support that and await the outcome of these discussions."

Akerboom himself denies that pressure is exerted on police officers to give a different representation of crime figures. "Come with names and numbers", he said to Investico in response to the survey.

The study reinforced doubts in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, about the crime figures. The Kamer therefore asked for clarification. Coalition party CDA has been wondering for a long time whether the police figures give an accurate picture of reality, parliamentarian Chris van Dam said to ANP. But if officers actually fudge the numbers themselves, that is extremely worrying, he said. "All the more reason to request a response from the Minister. SP, GroenLinks and PVV want Grapperhaus to come explain in the Kamer as soon as possible.