Cops ask theft victims to investigate crimes themselves

Citizens' investigation app Mijn Onderzoek
Citizens' investigation app Mijn OnderzoekPhoto: Politie

The police and Public Prosecutor are launching an app with which victims can investigate crimes themselves. According to the police, citizens are increasingly taking action themselves if they fall victim to a crime. The authorities are trying to respond to this development, and facilitate people in their investigation, with the app. An experiment with this app will start on June 1st in four police units. The experiment will initially only involve victims of robbery or theft, the police said in a statement.

The experiment, which will last two months, will take place in the police units Oost-Nederland, Oost-Brabant, Noord-Nederand and Rotterdam. With the app, victims of robbery can conduct witness interviews, find out if camera footage is available, add photos of evidence, speak to local residents to find witnesses, and conduct online investigations. These are all actions that every citizen can already perform, chief prosecutor John Lucas said. "We see that citizens now also perform such actions. It helps if they do so in a way that we can use the proceeds of this investigation in prosecution."

Oscar Dros, portfolio manager for citizen participation at the police, stressed that the authorities are not asking citizens to do their work. "We really see it as a form of cooperation. People are increasingly taking action themselves, whether or not we work on their declaration. We try to support the investigation by citizens with this app as well as possible", he said. "We notice that citizens' initiatives do not always match the working methods of the police. That is why we want to bring both worlds together. It is in everyone's interest that investigation be conducted carefully."

The experiment with this app forms part of a broader search for effective cooperation between citizens and the police. "It is a search that offers opportunities and entails dilemmas", Dros said. "If the police and citizens join forces, that can lead to great results. But citizen investigation also entails risk. For example, how do we prevent people from taking the law into their own hands?"