Registered crimes sees first increase in nearly a decade

Politie patch on a Dutch police officer's uniform
Politie patch on a Dutch police officer's uniform. Aug. 20, 2015JoeppoulssenDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

In total, over 800 thousand crimes were reported to the police in the Netherlands last year, an increase of 4 percent compared to 2018, according to annual figures the police released. This is the first time in nearly a decade that crime figures showed an increase. In 2010 over a million crimes were reported. That slowly decreased to 770 thousand in 2018. But the downward trend came to an end in the second half of 2018.

According to the police, there may be various reasons for the increase in reported crime, including an actual increase in crime, changes to the way the police register different crimes, and the fact that it is easier for citizens to report crimes, including through online channels. The police also noted a "striking" increase in the number of young offenders last year. 

Amsterdam saw a slight decrease in reported crimes, for the eighth consecutive year. The other four large cities all saw an increase, in Rotterdam by 4 percent, in Utrecht by 1 percent, and in The Hague and Eindhoven by 6 percent each. 

The number of reports of online fraud, payment fraud and other forms of cybercrime the police received in 2019 skyrocketed compared to the year before. Reports of fraud with online commerce increased by 31 percent. Payment fraud increased by a massive 67 percent. And reports of cybercrime increased by 64 percent. 

National Police Chief Erik Akerboom told AD that at first he almost could not believe these figures. "We looked at whether we used different measurements, but that does not appear to be the case. The only explanation we have is that more and more purchases are happening online. So fraud is also increasing." 

According to Akerboom, a large proportion of online fraud perpetrators are teenagers looking to make some quick cash. "They see in Marktplaats fraud a way to easily score money so that they can go out, for example," he said to the newspaper. 

At the same time, reports of more traditional crimes decreased last year. There were 14 percent fewer reports of pickpockets. And the number of home burglaries went down by 8 percent. According to Akerboom, this indicates a shift of crime. "Online fraud such as on Marktplaats is much easier and the chance of getting caught is smaller."

In a statement, Akerboom said that he wants the police to act more preventively than repressively, especially when it comes to young perpetrators. "The participation of young people in criminal activities is worrying and we will be monitoring this in the coming year. Earning money quickly, for example, by offering goods and so-called selling through online trading places, may be a first step on the road to a criminal career. Or take the children who were involved in the riots in Duindorp in the run-up to the New Year, the youngest suspect is 9! We must tackle this jointly and that requires an effort from, for example, parents, schools, municipalities and the police together."