Sex crimes fall 13 percent, muggings rise as registered violent crime stays flat

Police at Derk Wiersum shooting scene
Amsterdam Police cordoned off the crime scene where attorney Derk Wiersum was fatally shot. Sept. 18, 2019Image: Politie Amsterdam

The number of sex crimes the police registered last year decreased by 13 percent compared to 2018, according to an analysis of crime statistics released on Wednesday. The main categories of violent crime combined to show only a slight overall increase in 2019 when compared to the year before, even as there were large increases in categories like forced labor, muggings, and threats of violence.

Several categories showed signs of improvement, including registered sex crimes, which fell to 7,173, the lowest since 2014. According to the police figures, the number of crimes against life decreased by 4.6 percent, even as the number of murders and cases of manslaughter reportedly increased by 5 percent. The category in the official statistics not only includes murder and manslaughter, but also criminal assisted suicide, criminal forms of euthanasia, illegal and forced abortion, and "other crimes against life." These combine for 2,589 cases, the lowest in about a decade.

Registered cases of assault also fell to the lowest in nearly ten years, decreasing by another 1.5 percent. Still, the category represents the most incidents of violent crime, at 41,722.

The total number of violent crimes increased by 258 registered crimes to 93,861 last year, an increase of only 0.3 percent. The biggest single percentage increase was in the category of forced labor, which includes forcing someone into sex work. That jumped to 847 cases, a 39 percent increase over 2018.

Street muggings also rose significantly. The 3,777 incidents recorded by police was an increase of 6.9 percent. Robbing a person while on private or commercial property also rose 2.3 percent to 1,174.

Reported threats of violence increased by 5.3 percent to 28,214. This also represents the largest increase in recorded cases, with 1,412 more cases of violent threats above the 2018 total of 26,802. Public violence cases also jumped 2.5 percent to 3,698.

Meanwhile, the number of arson or attacks with explosives increased by 1.5 percent. Over the past years it has become increasingly common in the Netherlands for hand grenades and other explosives to be used as a threat. The explosives are left outside businesses or victims' homes. In November, a hand grenade was left outside Haarlem city hall, for example. Earlier this week, such an explosive was found outside the Kerkdriel apartment building where the mayor of Maasdriel lives. Using explosives to break into ATMs is also an increasingly common occurrence, to the extent that most ATMs in the Netherlands are now closed overnight. 

Some violent crime case statistics are not included in this initial analysis. These involve crimes that are combined with non-violent crimes, such as carjackings which in some cases might be categorized in the provided dataset as "theft of a motor vehicle".