Police can't keep up with growing sex crime cases: report

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

Due to staff shortages and an increasing number of cases, the police can't immediately pick up all sex crime cases reported to them. At least 350 cases per year wait months to sometimes a year before the police have time to start the investigation and question the suspected perpetrator, the police confirmed to Nieuwsuur after the program's own investigation.

Cases on the waiting list also include serious sex crimes like rape, sometimes even if the suspect has been identified and violence was used. Other cases are given more priority - cases where safety is immediately at stake, or cases in which minor victims are involved. 

The police and Public Prosecution Service acknowledge that it takes too long to get to some investigations. "Every year we have 3,500 sex crime cases that we have to carry out with 600 vice detectives. They are often complex cases and that everything is going digital also takes more time", Walter van Kleef, head of the vice squad, said to Nieuwsuur. Many new investigators have also been appointed that still need to be trained. "And in some teams we have to deal with high absenteeism."

The Center for Sexual Violence confirmed to Nieuwsuur that victims have to wait longer than desired in some regions. "We need to do something about it, because we know from practice that when people get frustrated and angry, it affects the processing process", said Iva Bicanic, head of the center. 

Criminal lawyer Louke Korfker currently has three sex crime cases that it took the police between five months and a year to start investigating. "I can't explain that to my clients. A rape touches victims in the inner core of their existence." The long waiting times is not only frustrating for the victims, but also dangerous for the environment, he added. "The longer you wait to find out what a victim saw, the more unreliable the statements are. That could have consequences for the possible conviction of the perpetrator."