Fewer crimes in Netherlands last year; more criminal assets seized

Scales of justice and gavel on law book
Scales of justice and gavel on law bookPhoto: tomloel/DepositPhotos

Like in previous years, the number of crimes registered in the Netherlands decreased last year. In 2018, 6 percent fewer crimes were registered than in 2017, the Public Prosecutor said in its annual report on Thursday. The Dutch authorities also seized over 171 million euros in criminal assets. But while the total number of registered crimes decreased, the declining trend seemed to start reversing in the second half of the year, the Prosecutor said.

The number of robberies increased by 4 percent last year, the first increase in years. The number of traffic offenses and the number of violations of the Weapons and Ammunitions Act both increased by over 10 percent in 2018. "Although we cannot speak of a trend break, it is important to follow this development closely", the Prosecutor said. The Dutch police also warned that the declining trend in crime figures seems to be coming to an end when they released their annual figures earlier this year. In the first quarter of 2019, the Netherlands saw the first increase in reported crimes in five years. 

The number of undermining crime cases that were prosecuted and closed in 2018 increased by 16 percent from 1,270 to 1,471. In 1,173 of those cases, the suspect was declared guilty by a court. 84 percent resulted in prison sentences. The number of people sentenced to prison for more than 2 years increased by 9 percent. The number of people sentenced to prison for more than 5 years, increased by 35 percent. The approximately 5,300 employees of the Public Prosecution Service dealt with more than 300 thousand criminal cases in 2018. 

"Crime in 2018 ws characterized by tough undermining crime with threatening effects in society that we absolutely do not want", said Gerrit van der Burg, the president of the Board of Advocates-General. 

According to the Prosecutor, crime in the Netherlands hardened last year and that can be seen in violent attacks and the "unprecedented" murder of key witness Nabil B.'s brother in Amsterdam. "It is absolutely worrying that the danger for innocent civilians has increased", the Prosecutor said. "Criminals are less and less reluctant to commit assassinations in broad daylight and in public places." While preventing assassinations is a difficult task, the Dutch authorities are doing everything in their power to make committing such crimes as difficult as possible for potential perpetrators, the Prosecutor said.

Assassinations are not considered as separate incidents by the Dutch authorities, but as serious manifestations of undermining crime that is connected to other forms of crime, like drug trafficking. In tackling this, criminal connections are investigated and facilitating networks are uncovered, the Prosecutor said. The police and Prosecutor make use of the full range of investigative powers to investigate  assassinations and criminal connections. "Everything is used to revers these dangerous, violent developments", Van den Burg said.

The Public Prosecution Service is increasingly focused on objectives other than just criminal prosecution, the Prosecutor said. The Prosecution works with local authorities, the Tax Authority, and healthcare institutions to "increase the effect of criminal proceedings and to strengthen government action as a whole". The Prosecution also puts a lot of time and energy into preventing terrorist- or criminal threats. "Of course, prevention is more important than repression and timely intervention to remove the threat then comes before criminal prosecution."



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