Dutch cops catch nearly 600 fugitives with new app

Police guard in a detention center
Police guard in a detention centerPhoto: Politie

With the help of a new computer system, the Dutch police managed to track down and detain 585 people who still had to serve a prison sentence in the past seven months. A new app allows police officers to immediately check whether someone they stop still have outstanding penalties against them, and immediately take them into custody if they still have to go to prison, AD reports.

Many people do not immediately go into custody after a conviction. Some receive a date on which they must report for their prison sentence, and then never show up. Others are sentenced in absentia, and there is often problems in getting other countries to extradite fugitives with shorter outstanding sentences, according to AD. In the past such fugitives were listed in various different registers, making it difficult for police officers to check whether someone they stopped still had an outstanding sentence.

At the start of last year, the Netherlands counted around 11 thousand people who still had to serve a prison sentence and weren't in custody. That number now dropped to 10.164. This ranges from people who have to serve only a few days in prison, to people who have to serve years. 

Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection has been working on ways to get more people with outstanding sentences in prison. He sees the arrest of 585 fugitives in the past seven months as "proof that the impulses work". By using one system, police officers can easily check whether someone has a prison sentence outstanding. It is also easier to go to such persons' homes, because their addresses are now recorded on one system. 

In addition to the new computer system and app, Dekker also took other measures. From last month, the police are notified if anyone with an outstanding sentence tries to apply for benefits. A special police team was also established to track down and arrest fugitives with long outstanding sentences for serious crimes like murder, sex offenses and robberies. Last year this team made 126 arrests, good for 66 thousand days in jail, according to the newspaper.